AUGUSTA — The city’s first new fire station in more than 50 years should be finished by mid-March after poor weather conditions earlier this month delayed the completion of the Leighton Road facility by a few weeks.

Augusta Fire Chief Roger Audette said delays caused by snow and ice complicated the contractor’s ability to do anything outside. He said finishing the roof on the truck bays and masonry work on the outside of the building are the only big projects remaining.

“The inside is wrapping up nicely,” Audette said by phone Monday. “They’re down to finishing the flooring and most of the rooms are about 80 to 90 percent done.”

It’s been 51 years since the city’s newest fire station was built on Hospital Street, and Audette said this station is overdue and a long time coming because of the growth in the area and increase in fire department calls to north Augusta.

A study by the Matrix Consulting Group in 2008 recommended the department build a new station in the area of Civic Center Drive near Interstate 95. The area is home to the Marketplace at Augusta, a hospital and an under-construction National Guard headquarters, along with several businesses, organizations and public agencies.

Audette said the station should last between 70 and 90 years and will be a safer and healthier workplace for the firefighters. Construction began in May, and because the city and department have been waiting for decades for a new station, another couple weeks won’t hurt, Audette said.

“They’re excited,” he said. “For some of them, it’s hard to believe there will be room to walk and move around the trucks.”

Audette said the contractor hopes the building is finished between March 10 and March 22. He’s hoping to open the facility in April, but there are trainings that need to be completed by staff and firefighters, including learning the building’s new mechanical systems.

“Some things like landscaping and the finished layer of pavement won’t be completed until the beginning of May,” he said. “They’ll be some things we can work around, and the rest can be done without having any impact on the fire department.”

The Augusta Fire Department has about 50 firefighters, and while some are looking forward to being assigned to the brand-new, state-of-the-art substation, others said some firefighters are set in their ways and will be happy to stay where they are.

“Some really like the historical nature of the Hartford station,” he said.

The new substation will have space for the city’s new ladder truck, ambulances, a fire engine and a support vehicle. Audette was in Nebraska last week checking on the progress of the $1 million ladder truck, and he expects it to be in Augusta by the end of March.

Firefighters will have at least a month of training to learn everything about the new ladder truck, Audette said. The chief doesn’t expect the vehicle to be in service until late April or early May.

The new structure will have modern amenities including living quarters with several bedrooms, separate bathrooms for men and women, an exercise area and a kitchen that Audette said will provide much-needed space that doesn’t exist at the city’s other stations.

Voters approved a $6 million bond issue in November to renovate Hartford Station. The new North Station was expected to cost around $4 million, though City Manager William Bridgeo said in a memo the work is “comfortably within budget and should finish” about $200,000 under budget.

“It’s hard to believe it’s finally here,” Audette said. He’s been actively working with contractors on bid packages for the Hartford Station project, and he said there are several contractors out there hoping to be involved.

Augusta voters approved $3.6 million in bonds for the new station in a November 2014 referendum, but in early 2015, city officials learned the clay soil under the station may not be able to support the weight of the station and the water-filled trucks it would house. The Augusta City Council approved spending an additional $500,000 to install steel pilings 60 feet down through the soil into bedrock to support the weight.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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