The apparatus floor of the new fire station on Quaker Meetinghouse Road, where the fire trucks will be parked when not in action, was being sanded this week in preparation for coating with layers of paint and epoxy.
This will create a strong surface that will not crack, Sandwich Fire Chief John J. Burke explained as he took time to give an unofficial tour of the facility on a hot, humid afternoon on Wednesday, July 17.
When finished, the floor will be bright red, he said.
The place was clearly starting to feel like home to Chief Burke as he gave a tour of the rest of the station, where all the offices and living spaces have been built and where the floors were not off-limits due to sanding.
Large fans in hallways kept air moving through this part of the new station, as workers bustled at a steady pace despite the heat and humidity.
Here, Chief Burke showed off the rooms, which included a fire prevention room that will have a small conference table and two desks; an EMS officer’s office; a first-aid room; the captain’s office; a combined day room and kitchen; four bedrooms that can sleep eight people, designed exactly like those at the new East Falmouth fire station; a decontamination room; an “air fill room” where self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) tanks can be refilled; the chief’s and deputy-chief’s offices and a training room.
“We will be able to bring a lot of online training here instead of sending people out for training,” Chief Burke said of the training room, which will have a conference table that seats 12 and a 75-inch smart TV.
Chief Burke pointed to an open window that was built into the wall overlooking the apparatus floor some 16 feet below and explained that firefighters can put a ladder through it to practice rescuing people from a window.
A confined space hatch, which looks like a manhole cover and drops to empty space below, he said, acts as a confined space rescue prop.
“It will make our people much better at their jobs to be able to train every day rather than having to go to the fire academy,” Chief Burke said of the training set-ups available at the new fire station.
“Our office and living space is minimal, and we did that on purpose,” the chief said. “Most of the space will be used to house trucks and do training.
Behind the fire station is a large retention pond that can be used during training drills. Water used from any of the four hydrants situated around the public safety complex during training can flow into the pond.
In the winter, the area can be flooded and allowed to freeze for ice-rescue training, Chief Burke said.
Fire station administrative offices were originally slated to remain at the Route 6A fire station, but the safety complex design was modified to accommodate them on Quaker Meetinghouse Road.
“It gets us out of the flood plain and next to the police station,” Chief Burke said. “Some employees will stay at the old station, but the administration will be at the safety complex.”
A flagpole donated by the family of deceased firefighter James Silva will be erected in what will eventually be a grassy area on the side of the building.
Some landscaping has been done with brightly colored flowering plants in new garden beds, but the majority of the landscaping will take place in the fall.
Chief Burke is planning a “soft” move-in date of August 19.
“It may be just the administrative staff here then, setting up their offices and working out the kinks,” he said.
The fire department has a new internet-based phone system, a new computer system, and new EMS software, all of which need to be brought up to speed.
The chief expects the new station to be fully operational as of September 3, the day after Labor Day and the first day of school.
“That is my theory of everything,” he said. “I try to build all new things around the first day of school because it has been ingrained in us since childhood that after Labor Day, we buckle down and get to work.”
Chief Burke is planning several fire station open houses at the new Quaker Meetinghouse Road site, so that members of the public can make themselves familiar with it: one in August, another on the anniversary of 9/11, and one during Fire Prevention Week, which begins October 6.