EAST PITTSTON — When you see a firefighter with an extrication tool in hand, it usually doesn’t bode well. The instruments have heavy blades that can cut through the bodies of wrecked cars, freeing whomever is trapped inside.

But when Pittston Fire Chief Jason Farris brought out an extrication tool on Saturday morning, it was a cause for celebration. The department was breaking ground for the construction of a new fire station on Route 194 to replace another station that has stood there for a half century.

The department held a ceremonial ribbon-cutting after the ground breaking, but rather than pose with a large pair of scissors, firefighters held the burly, orange extrication tool up to the ribbon.

“They’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Selectwoman Jean Ambrose, who attended the ceremony with the town’s other two selectmen, Roger Linton and Greg Lumbert.

“It’s well-deserved,” Lumbert said. “They’re a very dedicated fire department.”

The firefighters said the new station can’t be constructed soon enough.

For about 50 years, the East Pittston station has stood at the three-way intersection of Route 194 and Kelley Road. The current station has no bathroom, no water except from a hose in the floor and no ready access to the upper floor. Stairs used to ascend to that upper floor, but they were removed so the department’s increasingly large trucks could fit inside it.

After the ribbon-cutting on Saturday, firefighters used a ladder to reach the upper floor of the existing station to remove old lights, cases, windows and other equipment that was stored there. They were bringing that equipment to the town’s main fire station on Whitefield Road. When the new East Pittston station is constructed next door, the department expects to demolish the existing station.

The new station will be larger. It will be 48 feet by 48 feet — about the same size as the main fire station on Whitefield Road — 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 during a storm.

Unlike the current East Pittston Station, the new building will also be set back from Route 194, so fire trucks will have space to turn around without interrupting traffic at the blind intersection, Farris said. The current station is near the road, and traffic must stop when trucks are backed into it.

When the new East Pittston station is complete, Farris said he hopes firefighters will be able to train there throughout the year to get a feel for the new facility.

The construction project was originally approved by Pittston voters at the annual Town Meeting in 2016.

The department originally asked for $350,000 for the project, but voters approved just $300,000. At this year’s Town Meeting, though, voters approved the additional $50,000, which will fund a generator for the new East Pittston Station, asphalt in front of the building and a ventilation system that will clear exhaust from inside the building.

The town had enough money in its general fund to afford that additional work without raising the property tax rate, Farris said.

Voters readily accepted that additional amount at Town Meeting, said Ambrose, the selectwoman.

“It sailed right through,” she said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker