WINTHROP — By spring, the town’s firefighters should be able to move their trucks, hoses, protective clothing and other gear out of a cramped space on Main Street and into a more spacious, functional station that’s being built on U.S. Route 202.

The new $1.8 million station is expected to be finished in mid-May, but construction has been continuing on schedule and could finish sooner, said Dan Brooks, chief of the Winthrop Fire Department, during a tour of the site Tuesday.

So far, a wooden shell of the four-bay station has been raised, with a tower that will be used to dry hoses and train firefighters rising prominently above its roof. On Tuesday, workers were beginning to wire the two-story building for electricity. By January, they hope to install insulation and have a propane heating system running in some of the interior spaces, Brooks said.

“When all is said and done, it’s going to be great,” Brooks said.

The town is paying for the new station with a 25-year loan and a grant of $450,000 from an anonymous donor, after the Town Council awarded the project to Blane Casey Building in March. It’s being built on 3 acres of town-owned land next to the Carleton Woolen Mills building, just east of the Hannaford supermarket.

In previous discussions, some officials and residents had questioned the urgency of the project, given that funding errors have caused the town to be strapped for cash. But two factors made the councilors’ decision easier: the construction bids came in about $300,000 lower than expected, and the anonymous donation of $450,000 was contingent on the project happening this year, according to Brooks.

The main driver for building the new station came a couple years ago, when the Fire Department hoped to replace two older trucks with a new one but realized that the floor of the existing station would require a $10,000 upgrade to hold the new one. That truck still hasn’t been purchased, and Brooks said he won’t ask for it be funded next year.

Firefighters must enter the current station from the front, putting themselves in the way of engines that might need to leave; and they change into their turnout gear in the same space where the trucks idle, exposing themselves and their gear to soot and diesel fumes.

Parking is limited and traffic must be blocked for trucks to exit and enter the 70-year-old station, while its location at the bottom of Main Street makes its hard for trucks to reach U.S. Route 202 quickly.

The Town Council has indicated that it eventually will sell the old station once it’s vacated, according to Town Manager Ryan Frost.

Besides being located at the top of a hill and right on U.S. Route 202, the new station, at almost 10,000 square feet, also will be larger and better-designed than the old one. It will include a special gear room and entrance for firefighters to get ready. It will also include more storage space and a second floor that allows firefighters to practice using a ladder truck.

“This is obviously a much better scenario,” Brooks said. “It’s much safer.”

The new station will include an exercise room, two dormitory spaces, a kitchen and a room that could be used as office space for the volunteer firefighters. The hope, according to Brooks, is that those offerings will make it more inviting for the volunteer firefighters to work or spend their spare time at the station, so that they’ll respond to fires more quickly.

“Anything I can do to have a guy at the station, it’s like having a free full-time firefighter,” Brooks said last year, when a design of the new station had been completed.

The station also will have a meeting space that can be used for other community functions and a small lobby where an antique truck will be displayed.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker