Construction of East Middlebury firehouse done

MIDDLEBURY — East Middlebury residents on Saturday morning will get their first comprehensive look at their new fire station, a 50-foot-by-60-feet building completed within budget and in less than five months.
“This is a very exciting time for the Middlebury Fire Department (MFD),” Lt. Pat Shaw said on Thursday as he opened, with the flick of a switch, the two 14-foot-by14-foot bay doors that will soon accommodate — with plenty of room to spare — the fire apparatus that will continue to protect the East Middlebury community.
“This is truly going to be a 40- or 50-year building, no problem,” he added.
Shaw was the leader of a fire station study committee that spent several months assessing potential upgrades to the fire department’s headquarters on Seymour Street and its East Middlebury station, located at the intersection of King’s Row and East Main Street. The group ultimately proposed a $4.625-million bond issue allowing for substantial renovations and expansion to the Seymour Street building, along with replacement of the deteriorating East Middlebury structure.
Middlebury resident overwhelmingly endorsed the 20-year bond issue to pay for the project last March by a 782-367 tally.
Under the direction of Middlebury-based Bread Loaf Corp., workers quickly set to work this spring putting both fire station projects into motion.
Shaw said Burnham Construction began working on the East Middlebury station in May. Using many local subcontractors and a lot of local material from such vendors as Goodro Lumber, Burnham put the finishing touches on the new station a few weeks ago.
It is a basic, no-frills design, but very spacious, energy efficient, sprinklered and a major upgrade from the 3,300-square-foot re-purposed service station that until recently housed three critical pieces of the fire department’s nine fire suppression vehicles.
The single-story, wood-framed building virtually gleams with newness, from its white walls to the freshly laid epoxy flooring that will prevent hurried firefighters from slipping on their way to an emergency.
“It is absolutely beautiful,” Shaw said, casting his eyes around the interior of the station that will soon house a pumper, an engine and a tanker. Goodro Lumber has provided parking for those vehicles during construction.
“We couldn’t have been happier about the way this went down.”
East Middlebury residents are also happy about how the project turned out.
“The (East Middlebury) residents are very excited,” said Middlebury Selectwoman Susan Shashok, who lives near the new station. “I have only heard positive things about it from people in the neighborhood.”
Mike Newton is chairman of East Middlebury’s Prudential Committee.
“I have heard a number of people say they like the appearance of the building,” Newton said. “I think it is an attractive, and hopefully functional, building.”
Newton and his Prudential Committee colleagues are also pleased that the new station includes a small storage unit that will be used for tools and equipment belonging to the East Middlebury Fire District.
“It will be a big help to the district,” he said. “We will be able to have those tools close by and under cover.”
The Oct. 27 ribbon cutting ceremony for the new station will begin at 10 a.m.
“This old girl here was at times the ‘forgotten sister,’” Shaw said in describing the lack of attention the building received throughout the years. “We don’t want that anymore.”
Meanwhile, crews continue to work on the MFD’s Seymour Street headquarters. The new project includes construction of a two-story, 8,100-square-foot addition containing four large truck bays; installation of a sprinkler system and elevator; and completion of interior renovations and better insulation to optimize the building’s use and make it more energy efficient.
Shaw said work is progressing on time and under budget, to the extent the project could be completed by early February.
“All the exterior work is wrapping up,” Shaw said. This will allow the interior work to be done during the cold-weather months. Middlebury Fire Department apparatus normally stored in that building  is temporarily being accommodated at the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center and Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association properties.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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