|By Chris Maza|
WILBRAHAM The Wilbraham Fire Department is inching closer to the day when it will be able to return to its home on Boston Road.
Fire Chief Francis Nothe said that the contractors have nearly completed the work on the massive renovation to the main fire station that has been ongoing since June 2012.
The renovation of the fire station came with an estimated price tag of $2.8 million. The Capital Planning Committee (CPC) approved a $2.2 million appropriation for the project and voters at an April 2, 2012 Special Town Meeting approved two articles, one requesting $336,860 from the Ambulance Fund and the other asking for $195,000 from the Capital Stabilization Fund, to finance necessary aspects of the renovation not funded by the CPC's allowance.
During the construction, the Fire Department has operated out of its secondary station located at 6 Woodland Dell Road in the center of town.
"We should be able to get in there in about two weeks. I would say it is about 95 percent complete," Nothe said. "They are finishing up a few things like the boiler room and painting the apparatus bay floor."
The renovations are a bit behind schedule. Nothe said in June 2012 that he hoped to return the department to the Boston Road station by December, but he noted any delays have been minor.
"We are a few weeks late, but nothing ever goes 100 percent right with construction," he said. "We worked our way through every problem from soil quality issues to heating units and we can see the finish line from here."
Another speed bump the department faced was the installation of the station's new communications tower. While residents voted at the May 14, 2012 Annual Town Meeting to transfer $39,950 from free cash toward the $79,950 communications project, there was uncertainty regarding the responsibility for pouring its foundation.
While not completely finished, the Fire Department has been able to use certain parts of the renovated building.
"We're currently using the garage to store equipment," Nothe said.
Nothe added that he is looking forward to being able to put his trucks and apparatus inside the fire station's new bays. Currently the department's tank engine is being housed at the East Longmeadow fire station.
"We're certainly appreciative to our friends in East Longmeadow for helping us out, but we obviously are ready to have our trucks back in our own facility," Nothe said.
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