The Windham Fire Department took up residence in the new South Windham Fire Station at 33 Main Street on Saturday, January 21st. The building is a major upgrade from the previous 3,500 square foot space, with 13,000 square feet of space.
After 103 years at the old location, upgrades to that space were no longer feasible. Though the previous property had seen four different buildings, starting with a hose house, there were many challenges with that location. Expansion wasn’t possible, said Chief Brent Libby - with the river on two sides and new construction on the property next door. Another issue with the former location, Libby said was the safety issues presented by having to have trucks in the road as they moved in and out of the station.
|New South Windham Fire Station|
The new building offers expanded living space for: The live-in student program, meeting space, a separate kitchen, a table for dining, a room that can be used to create a space for crew to relax, laundry facilities, a DECON room, and a spacious apparatus bay.
The former building offered no space for meetings and training. In the new building, there is a classroom which not only allows the department to hold meetings and trainings on site, but also allows for some community space in the South Windham area, said Libby.
The bedrooms for students, in the old facility, had space for just a bed and bureau, said Libby. The new living quarters, located in an attached cedar log home, allowed for expansion of the live-in program, which now consists of four students who live on site. The live-in program benefits both the students and the department, Libby said. It gives the department some staffing at the station which can help reduce response time. The students gain hands-on experience they wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to get.
One of the advantages of the new location was its proximity to Gorham, which allows it to remain a shared station as it has been since the 1940s, with the Gorham Fire Department. “There are a lot of benefits to that. We share personnel and we share a lot of equipment, so it serves both communities very well,” said Libby.
The new building allows for added safety features as well. The old building did not have a sprinkler system, but with people living there, Libby said sprinklers are very important to them.
The apparatus bay in the new space offers plenty of space for trucks, gear storage, and training. In the old building, there was no space to work around the trucks, and no margin of error when pulling in and out, Libby said. It also has space for training inside instead of having to be outdoors, Libby added.
The biggest benefit gained from the move is additional function and safety, Libby said. The station will serve the community for many years to come. “We did our best to design things with the future in mind, so we’re not going to be back in ten years saying we’ve already outgrown it. Something pretty dramatic would have to have happened to outgrow this space,” Libby said.