EAST HARWICH — Standing in sharp contrast to the aging building it will replace, the new fire substation in East Harwich is bright, spacious and modern, and it should be ready to open in time for a Nov. 30 dedication ceremony.
Work is progressing quickly on the $6.75 million station at 1464 Orleans Rd., with subcontractors working on electrical systems and finish carpentry.
“There’s nothing lavish here,” Fire Chief Norman Clarke, Jr., said last week. “It meets the need right now.” That need is vastly different than it was when the department build the original station next door. Designed in 1972, that facility is now cramped, outdated and failing; the town’s facilities director is nursing the aging heating system in hopes that it will last until the end of the month.
“It’s that bad,” Clarke said.
The public entrance to the station leads to a small restroom and a sunny meeting room “which will be open to the public to use,” the chief said. Behind a security door there is a first aid room and five bunk rooms, each of which has an entryway with several lockers, eliminating the need for separate locker rooms. There is no office for the lieutenant who is typically in charge of the station, though the lieutenant’s bunk room is slightly larger than the others to allow room for a desk.
There is a small fitness room and an open desk where crews can complete EMS paperwork, and a larger day room with a kitchen near the rear of the building. Meeting modern regulations, firefighting equipment and gear is stored in a different part of the building, where air pressure is slightly lower to keep contaminants out of the living space.
The apparatus bay is spacious by comparison with the old station, but is by no means oversized, Clarke said. It has space for two engines, two ambulances, a pickup truck used by paramedics and other responders, and a sixth vehicle, likely the forestry truck or the rescue boat, currently kept at the headquarters station.
“We’ll be full when we move in,” Clarke said. Dormers were added to the roof over the apparatus floor to improve the appearance from outside. “It also brings in some really nice light,” the chief said. A mezzanine overlooks the apparatus bay, providing space for computer equipment and utilities, along with storage for some equipment. The mezzanine also includes an elevated training window where firefighters can practice rescues.
The open house and dedication has been scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 30 at 10 a.m., and the public is invited to attend and tour the building. Barring any unexpected delays, the firehouse will be operational by that date, Clarke said. The project has been slightly delayed because of a bid protest and some electrical complications, but it is holding to the $6,750,000 spending blueprint.
“We are definitely on budget, and my expectation is it will be slightly under budget,” Clarke said.