EAST HARWICH — Calling it an expression of the value Harwich residents place on public safety and the people who provide it, town officials dedicated the new East Harwich fire substation Saturday.
The new building will be ready for use in about three weeks, Fire Chief Norman Clarke, Jr., said. It will be a vast improvement over the small, dilapidated station it replaces next door.
“It was all designed by the people who are going to work here,” he said of the new facility.
The ceremony began with an invocation by chaplain Father Mark Tremblay, with a moment of silence for Worcester Fire Lieut. Jason Menard, who died in the line of duty on Nov. 13. Cub Scouts led the large assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Monomoy High School Ladies’ A Cappella group sang the National Anthem.
In a ritual usually reserved for public buildings like the U.S. Capitol, the Statehouse in Boston and the Pilgrim Monument, the fire station received an ancient Masonic cornerstone dedication conducted by members of the Pilgrim Lodge.
Clarke thanked “the great citizens of the town” for supporting the $6.75 million project, along with a host of town officials and committee members who facilitated the job. As he does in his everyday job, “I surround myself with highly dedicated professionals” whose expertise was invaluable in the building project, the chief said. “All these people stepped up without being asked, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude,” Clarke said.
U.S. Air Force Lieut. General Anthony Schiavi, an East Harwich resident, presented Clarke with a framed print depicting the F-15 fighter jets from Otis Air National Guard Base that responded on 9/11. The print is numbered 343, the number of firefighters who died at the World Trade Center that day.
Selectmen Vice-chairman Ed McManus offered the board’s congratulations, and his own personal thanks for the Harwich Fire department, which responded “on four occasions to help my family. Thank you for that,” he said. McManus snipped one of two ceremonial ribbons to dedicate the station.
The other ribbon was cut by Ralph “Ephie” Crowell, whose family donated the land for the fire station back in 1967. The Crowell family were special guests at the ceremony, and one member, Brian, is now a Harwich firefighter.