PITTSTON — When the Pittston Fire Department was considering how it would replace its aging and outdated station in East Pittston, its members did their homework.

Chief Jason Farris and senior firefighter Larry Ireland spent time traveling to recently completed stations across the region to find out what worked and what did not.

What resulted is a new, larger Village Fire Station for the town that reflects the wisdom of a number of departments. Construction of the 48-foot-by-48-foot firehouse was completed earlier this year at a cost of $350,000, and the department invited the public in to see what it has to offer last week.

The red-roofed white building, which stands where East Pittston and Kelley roads meet, is where 21st-century technology meets age-old practice.

Among the innovations that Farris and Ireland — for whom the station has been named — brought to the design of the building were the addition of a blower mounted to the ceiling to maintain the temperature inside the bays to augment the radiant heat floors, waterproof wall panels backed with plywood to minimize water damage and allow racks to be hung anywhere on the walls, and windows in the south-facing bay doors, which helps warm the space on sunny days.

They considered different types of floor drains and settled on a system that separates oil from water to prevent ground pollution.

The East Pittston station has a filtration system so that engines can be running inside the building when needed without fear of filling the bays with exhaust.

Farris said the filtration system will eliminate carcinogens from the air; he’s looking for grant money to install a similar system in the Central Fire Station on Whitefield Road, which is next to the Pittston Town Hall.

But just as important as the technology are the training room on the second floor and the kitchenette in the corner of the ground floor.

Farris said the training room can double as a temporary bunk room for firefighters who may be stationed in East Pittston during storms like the series of nor’easters that swept through Maine in February and March. That’s critical in shortening response time.

The kitchenette, which has a refrigerator, sink, microwave and toaster oven, also has a kitchen table.

“Some of the best training takes place around a kitchen table,” Farris said, when firefighters sit and talk about fires they have fought and approaches they used. “I have seen tactics, strategy and policy come from it.”

And it has a bathroom, something the old station lacked.

The Village Fire Station is on the same property as its predecessor, but it has been moved back away from the road to allow better and safer access for firetrucks and better visibility for the passing traffic.

“We looked at several sites, but we had enough land here,” Farris said.

Once the new building was up, the old one was knocked down and that space now provides parking for the station.

The location is also key. Pittston’s population — which totals about 2,660 — is concentrated most around the vicinity of the Village Fire Station, Farris said. And because it’s at the intersection of Kelley and East Pittston roads, it offers immediate access to all four directions, which also shaves minutes off response time for fires.

Along with the new technology, the department also is making use of technology to improve response. The department’s 22 members can use a smartphone app called “I Am Responding” to indicate whether they are available to respond to a fire call, and if so, how and where they will respond. That information feeds into a map that provides a visual update for the location of the fire and the firefighters, both on smartphones and on video screens at the station. Having that kind of information quickly also allows department officers determine whether they would need to call for mutual aid from surrounding towns.

Farris said the system also ties into Warden’s Report, an online platform that fire wardens in participating communities can use to issue burn permits, so firefighters can see whether the source of reported smoke is a permitted burn or something else.

Farris said he hopes to be able to outfit firetrucks with no-contract phones to be able to show the location of responding firetrucks as well.

Ireland, a longtime firefighter who lives near the Village Fire Station, said the station is a big deal to the firefighters who use it and to Pittston’s taxpayers.

“It’s big enough to have everything you need,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: