The Carnation accompanied Tewksbury Fire Dept. chief Joseph Kearns, Select Board members Todd Johnson and Jayne Wellman, Planning Board members Robert Fowler and Vincent Fratalia, town manager Richard Montuori and town staff and project managers on a tour of the soon-to-open center fire station. Fowler is a retired TFD captain.
The facility is set to have furniture move-in the third week of February and be ready for the TFD by early to mid March. The final cost will be around $15.8 million, lower than the approximately $16 million budgeted. In 2017, Town Meeting appropriated $13.4 million, and the town later authorized an additional $2.5 million.
The new facility replaces the current Center Station, which was constructed in 1966. Montuori said that facility will be used temporarily for school department offices and storage then demolished.
The new facility is located across from Town Hall. Residents may recall that there was concern among some officials and Planning Board members about the suitability of the site and the ability for engines to maneuver and navigate entries and exits.
However, Kearns said that once construction materials are removed, he’s confident that engines will have no trouble pulling out onto Rt. 38.
The door design for the facility’s five bays is a highlight of the new station.
The doors are side-hinged and bi-fold, and Kearns said they are so well-balanced that even if power is out, personnel can easily pull a string to disconnect the power and open them manually. There is a generator that kicks on in case of a power outage.
There is significantly more space than the current Center Station, and the project architect, HKT, specializes in fire stations and incorporated many current best practices.
The ceilings are high enough that personnel can easily service fire apparatus. The bay floors are a high-performance, durable epoxy resin, and both the internal floors and external pavement skirt in front of the bays have radiant heat generated by hot water that circulates through a piping system. That design element is meant to address a lack of snow storage on the site.
The yellow tubes are for diesel exhaust. The system kicks on when an apparatus starts up so that engines can be run with the doors closed, for maintenance.
Given the tight size of the lot, the station was designed with three stories to accommodate living facilities and administrative offices. Fire poles will get TFD personnel to the engine bays quickly. There are two pole sections — one from the second floor living quarters to the mezzanine, and a separate section from the mezzanine to the bays. The poles are designed for safety, with an active latch system. Personnel may also use the stairs.
Kearns said the height of the building will enable firefights to train in rappelling, both inside from the mezzanine deck and outside.
The mezzanine deck is situated between the bays. Underneath the deck is an area where firefighters returning from calls can decontaminate and wash their gear to remove harmful chemicals.
Kearns showed off a second-floor training room with whiteboards, a projector system and seating for close to 50. Enabling trainers, such as the state fire academy, to come onsite versus sending TFD personnel offsite will save the town money and increase readiness. And, training will no longer need to happen in living quarters.
The new station has state-of-the-art technology and fiber Internet connectivity as well as physical security, with barriers between the public lobby and firefighter living quarters.
Administrative offices and sleeping rooms, such as this single suite, have views of the town center. There will also be a fully equipped workout room on the second floor.
Like the individual sleeping quarters, the locker and shower rooms are designed to accommodate male and female personnel. Tewksbury currently has one female firefighter, said Kearns. Fowler expressed appreciation for the color and capacity of the lockers.
Each firefighter and Tewksbury EMT will have a dedicated locker.
The large kitchen and adjacent day room have space for a table where firefighters can gather for meals.
“When these guys have to work the holidays, it’s nice for them to be able to have dinner together,” said Kearns. “We got a big enough table that the entire shift can come up.”
Note the design of the lighting over the dining area; the dual fixtures carry on the red color scheme and connote beams. Kearns, Johnson and Fowler (l-r) are in what will be a group dining area.
The dining area and light fixtures. Kearns said that cooking duties vary by shift. In some cases, there is a firefighter who enjoys cooking. Other shifts share that task. Under questioning from Wellman, Kearns declined to weigh in on which firefighter is the best chef on the force.
A deck off of the kitchen and dayroom will allow firefighters to get some fresh air and enjoy a view of an adjacent Tewksbury Rail Trail. It will also accommodate a grill.
Workers are putting finishing touches on the exterior of the third floor, which houses administrative suites. The EMS coordinator, training officer, fire investigator and other TFD personnel will have their own offices, and there are conference rooms available.