Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

Cramped fire station in dire need of renovations

Date: 4/4/2011

April 4, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM — Anyone who wants to know why the Wilbraham Fire Department is in need of a renovated main fire station need only pay a visit to the current facility.

A tanker truck is crammed into a bay so small that its rear bumper is a mere inch from the wall and its front grill only inches from the door. Fire Chief Francis Nothe has jokingly told his firefighters that when they back the truck in to "keep backing up until they hear glass."

Some of the station's offices, along with the bunkrooms and the multi-purpose room used for recreation, meetings and training is actually a modified trailer.

The second level of the building, according to Building Inspector and Zoning Enforcement Officer Lance Trevallion, was built through the handiness of the firefighters and has an all-wood frame, which violates current building codes.

On March 31, members of what is expected to be the committee overseeing the renovation project, including Trevallion — the project manager — and Nothe, met with representatives from Tecton Architecture, the company hired by the town to create a building plan and cost assessment for the project.

The group took a tour of the exterior and interior of the facility before sitting down to talk about specific needs the department would have and the facility would need to fulfill.

The department currently staffs 24 firefighter/EMTs between its two stations, the main station in question on Boston Road and a secondary station on Woodland Dell Road in the town's center, Nothe told Tecton.

On average, four firefighters, plus one captain, are on duty during each shift at the Boston Road location, while an additional two are stationed at the secondary location. The station responds to 2,400 calls per year.

Nothe presented a rough idea as to what he wanted to see from the revamped fire station, stating he hoped to keep the current building as the main facility, while expanding the building to both sides and to the back.

Trevallion said the renovation would face no restrictions from Zoning and the only thing the Planning Board would require was a site plan review, which he described as "relatively minor in nature."

Nothe said any vehicles that carry water or medical supplies need to be stored inside the facility. Currently, the department has 10 vehicles that would have to find homes within the building.

One of the main things the Tecton representatives pointed out was the lack of storage space, which is not only inconvenient, but can lead to cross contamination and equipment not receiving proper care, leading to its ineffectiveness over time.

In addition to improved fire response, the department would like to see an increase in space for training in the complex. David Bourcier, captain of Fire Prevention and Training, indicated that the department does a great deal of its training on site and also would like to host training for personnel outside of the department.

He said in the past the department has attempted to put together joint training ventures with the Police Department and other groups, such as the Massachusetts Fire Academy.

Nothe said he thought the renovation would provide sufficient space for departmental and town needs and didn't expect the need for further expansion in the future.

Trevallion concurred, stating the town is "80 percent built out" and was not going to grow much more.

Bookmark and Share