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New town of Watertown fire station nearly ready to open

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Town of Watertown firefighters know they are in their new home just by looking down at the floor in the pristine four-bay station on County Route 202.

“TWFD,” for town of Watertown Fire Department, is prominently displayed in reddish lettering in the hallway.

First Assistant Chief Ralph A. Green Jr., chairman of the building committee, said features like that were added to the 10,000-square-foot station to honor the 55 volunteers who make up the department.

“We wanted to personalize it as much as we could,” Mr. Green said during a recent tour of the nearly $1.9 million facility.

If all goes well, the department will move into the building in mid-March. The station was built to protect the town’s growing west side, Mr. Green said, and will cut response times to that area.

For instance, trucks no longer will have to drive from the department’s main station on County Route 67 through the city of Watertown to get to Salmon Run Mall and other businesses along Route 3, Mr. Green said. That route takes about 12 minutes; the time from the new station will be about three minutes.

The new station replaces a 25-year-old unmanned satellite station at 20312 Route 3, in front of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services property. That small station houses a single fire engine. The department also has a small station in Burrville.

Another big difference with the County Route 202 station will be a “bunk-in” program starting later this year for volunteer firefighters who will sleep in the new building and go right from there to calls.

The Fire Department is teaming up with Jefferson Community College to offer the program to students who want to gain practical experience while they earn a fire protection technology certificate at JCC.

Up to eight firefighters at a time can sleep at the station, Mr. Green said. They will have access to a kitchen and to a lounge area where they can gather and watch TV.

“We’re still putting together some procedures and policies,” Mr. Green said.

But his favorite feature?

The spacious truck bays, which have a bunch of new gadgets and amenities. “It’s a cool place,” Mr. Green said.

Above each of the four garage doors are red and green traffic lights that signal drivers when it’s safe to exit. Trucks also can be hooked up to an exhaust-removal system, a process not available at the County Route 67 station.

The department has raised about $8,000 that will go toward furniture for the new station. The parking lot, some minor exterior work and landscaping still have to be completed. The engine and rescue trucks cannot move in until the epoxy on the cement floor hardens completely over the next two weeks.

The Fire Department is borrowing money to pay for the project. To reduce costs, the department eliminated a second story for a multipurpose/training room and reduced the number of “bunk-in” rooms from nine to four. Mr. Green said he hopes the other five bunk rooms and the second story can be added later.

The project was several years in the making. Mr. Green credited Fire Commissioners President J. Earl Halback with “putting his heart and soul” into the project and making it a reality.

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