|By Chris Maza
The main fire station on Boston Road.
Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza
WILBRAHAM The Fire Department formally opened its newly renovated main fire station on Boston Road to the public with an open house on June 14.
The project, which called for the closing of the station for several months as the building was expanded from 3,600 square feet to 11,500 square feet, was completed by Western Builders Inc. within the timetable agreed upon at the outset of construction in June 2012.
Fire Chief Francis Nothe said he appreciated the community's support in getting the renovation completed. It was a long time coming, he added.
"It was difficult to get traction going for this project. We spent about 20 years trying to do something," he said. "Even though the town dealt with a tornado and built a new high school, we were finally able to get some of that traction and we were able to do it without an [Proposition 2 1/2] override."
Included are improved apparatus bays, an additional bay for ambulances and other equipment some of which was stored outside prior to the renovation four bunk rooms and a locker room. A lounge/training room and fully equipped kitchen were also completed with appliance and flooring donations from Friendly Ice Cream Corp.
"This facility will make our operations a lot more efficient," he said. "The department has always been effective, but this will especially make our response time better in instances where special equipment is needed because it will be readily available to us and we won't have to move stuff around to access it."
In addition to improvements to the areas of the building used by firefighters, the public entrance to the facility as well as the chief's office were moved to the front of the building and a public parking lot in the front was also added.
"It's certainly more accessible than in the past when people would have to go around to the back of the building," Nothe said.
He added that the rear public entrance was representative of the inefficiency that existed with the old building design.
"The old building was really piecemealed together in the past," he said. "There was an addition put on here, another put on there without any long term plan."
During construction, the department's operations were moved to the secondary station located at 6 Woodland Dell Road where trailers were set up for temporary storage and workspaces.
Nothe noted that Western Builders was able to get the new apparatus bays open so trucks and equipment could be stored there during the winter while construction on other parts of the building was ongoing.
"They understood there was a sense of urgency and we wanted to set up shop at the station as soon as possible," he said. "We had limited options for storage with the cold weather coming."
The open house was not the only opportunity residents will have to see the new facility. Nothe said that any resident who wishes to take a tour would be obliged.
A fire prevention open house will also take place in October.
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