PITTSTON — The East Pittston Fire Station has stood for about 50 years on a blind, three-way intersection on Route 194.

By this time next year, a new, larger fire station will be standing on the property next to the existing one, which is expected to be demolished.

For Fire Chief Jason Farris, that can’t happen soon enough.

The current building has no bathroom, no water except from a hose in the floor and no ready access to the upper floor.

“We have to use a ladder to get up there,” he said Thursday. That’s because the stairs had to be removed a number of years ago to accommodate the increasing size of fire trucks.

This project, for which bids are due to the town by 5 p.m. Nov. 30, is just one of the projects the department has undertaken this fall. Plans are underway to replace the shingle roof at the main fire station with a metal roof. The department has picked up its new heavy response truck, which is replacing a refitted military surplus 1989 ambulance. That is prompting the sale of that vehicle, and bids on it will be accepted until 5 p.m. Nov. 9.

The largest of the three projects is the fire station, which is expected to cost about $300,000. Voters approved the project at Town Meeting in March, and approval of that article drew applause.

The plans for the building are nearly complete. It will be 48 feet by 48 feet, about the same size as the main fire station, and it will have three bays for two pumpers and a forestry truck and a second floor loft for storage and a place for a crew to sleep if they need to do so during a storm.

“I’m hoping before Christmas we’ll be able to award the bid,” Farris said. That way, construction could start in the spring and wrap up by September.

“They have spent quite a lot of time making sure they have what they want in that place,” Selectwoman Jean Ambrose said. “Jason and Larry Ireland and a few other people have gone to look at fire stations around the state.”

Ireland serves on Pittston’s Budget Committee.

The station also is designed to be taller than the existing building, Farris said, because the town is building a fire station the volunteer department can grow into. Firetrucks, he said, continue to get larger.

“We really appreciate the work these volunteers do,” Ambrose said. “Jason and his crew are great. They are well-trained, thanks to Jason.”

Ambrose said Farris has been looking for a long time for a truck to replace the refitted ambulance.

He found one that was being sold by a fire department in Massachusetts. The new-to-Pittston heavy response truck is almost ready to be put into service. In April, the town held a special town meeting to authorize spending money town officials already had set aside in a reserve account for fire equipment, and the move was approved.

The 2002 diesel truck has only 5,900 miles on it, and it has had only a single oil change. Brand new, the truck would cost about $250,000, Farris said, and it’s for sale for $37,500. Farris asked for $45,000 to pay for the truck, change the lettering and pay for any maintenance it might need. Whatever money is left over would go back to the fire equipment reserve account. The town agreed.

“It’s immaculate,” he said. “It has the same paint scheme as our trucks.”

The rescue truck has a number of features its predecessor did not. It can seat four firefighters behind the cab on a bench seat with air tanks set in the backs of the seats. The firefighters can slip those on and then put on their shoulder seat belts, which saves time and secures the firefighters safely in the vehicle. Farris said in the truck being replaced, the firefighters are seated facing sideways and have only lap belts, which is not a safe way to transport people.

The truck has a lighting system, a generator and the ability to fill air tanks as needed.

The Massachusetts department also included some safety and rescue equipment, which is being checked over free. Even so, he said the purchase came in under Pittston’s budget.

“It’s a specialty truck. They (the Massachusetts department) could have gotten a lot more for the truck if they wanted to wait,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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