WILBRAHAM After a 27-year hiatus, Fire Station #2 on Woodland Dell Road is back in operation, bringing rapid, round-the-clock ambulance and fire engine coverage to the southern part of town.
Fire Chief Francis Nothe, assisted by Captain David Bourcier, Selectmen David Barry and Jim Thompson and other members of the Fire Department welcomed townspeople to the official re-opening and day-long open house at the refurbished facility July 18.
"Like an army fighting a war, we were deployed in the wrong area," Nothe told the group of well-wishers during pre-ribbon-cutting remarks. "This station was closed in 1979 so we could move personnel to Boston Road so we could go 24-hours. But it put us further away from the south end of town."
With the recent increase in homes in that part of Wilbraham, and on Monson Road, Nothe said the weakness in fire coverage became apparent.
"We've got great equipment and great people, highly trained people," Nothe said in a post-ribbon-cutting interview. "But trying to get on the scene was a problem."
Nothe said members of the Fire Department had talked about the advantages of reopening Station #2 for many years, and he recently approached the Board of Selectmen about refurbishing the Woodland Dell station in order to cut response time to the southern part of town. A $218,000 appropriation to cover the cost of renovations was proposed, and approved by voters at the 2005 Annual Town Meeting.
The monies allowed the Fire Department to update the building, which was originally constructed in 1953, and convert the attic into living quarters for a permanent two-man crew.
Nothe said members of the department did some of the work themselves to hold down the costs. He also publically thanked many businesses and individuals who had supplied materials and assistance, including Kitchen Encounters, which provided a kitchen cabinet at a reduced rate, Paul Civetti Construction, which provided a radio tower, the Hampden County Sherrif's Department, which provided labor to assist with painting, and Home Depot, which provided a flag pole.
"It's only appropriate to thank Chief Nothe," said Selectman David Barry. "This was long overdue."
Barry added that Nothe brought the project in on budget.