Expanded Cumberland fire station to be dedicated May 12

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CUMBERLAND — The expanded, 18,000-square-foot fire station at 366 Tuttle Road weaves the past with the future.

The apparatus bays remain from the original Central Fire Station built in 1968; the administrative section was leveled last May. In its place and on a neighboring property now stand a two-story addition, along with a lower level accessed off a new parking lot. An existing parking lot with 22 spaces for staff remains, with another approximately 20 new spots on the other side of the building.

The complex will be dedicated at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12, in an event hosted by the Central Fire Station Building Committee and Town Council.

Along with apparatus bays expanded from four to six, the main floor of the newer building houses administrative areas and community paramedicine space. The second floor has living quarters, a day room, and kitchen and fitness areas. Training and medical equipment, an emergency operations center and a kitchen and community room are on the lower level.

The building has nine bunk rooms, with an office that can be converted to house another, and a similar number of bathrooms with showers. There is also space for cots.

Several informational screens hang on the building’s walls, with up-to-the-minute data streaming in from Cumberland County’s dispatch center on the nature and location of emergency calls around the area.

The Town Council in November 2016 unanimously approved borrowing up to $4.1 million, including contingency funds, to build the addition. The funds mostly come from the town’s capital budget, according to Councilor Tom Gruber.

Fire Chief Dan Small, who will transition from part- to full-time status, said he sees a place that caters to the community at large. The goal was to create a home-like environment around the staff and volunteers, geared toward drawing new men and women into the fire-rescue fold.

That goes for teenagers, too.

“We’ve got over 10 kids right now in our Explorer Post,” Small said in an interview April 26 of the department’s junior firefighter program. “We know that part of this is because there’s now space for them to want to be here.”

“They’re here, and the building accommodates them,” he added. “Community members (come into the new space and say), ‘wow, that’s pretty cool. Can I be involved?’ Absolutely.”

“We have a role for everybody here,” Small noted. “If you want to drive the truck and run a pump, to help direct traffic, to firefighter 1 and 2 or paramedic, there are roles for that.”

Among perks for those already involved are the fully-equipped gym, packed with anonymously-donated equipment. There’s also the kitchen/dining/living room area that provides ample cooking, food storage, and seating space for those who want to shoot the breeze or watch TV between shifts.

“It is so important to us to have our call company staff here. We have full-time (staff), we have per diems that are active,” but until now there hasn’t been much space for them, like the Explorers, to come and hang out, Small said.

Instead of being at home when an emergency erupts, those people can already be at the station, watching the news, grabbing a snack, burning off said snack on an exercise bike.

“That will be such a huge value, huge value; I can’t stress that one enough,” the chief explained. “Because there’s room upstairs, even if it’s to watch TV. We’re not paying them to be here (for that), but if the bell goes off, they’re here to get on the trucks and they go.”

The department now has a new face for the community, of sorts, in the form of Patty Murphy. From behind a counter, the newly hired office manager greets people coming into the main entrance and directs them where needed. 

“It’s a great feature,” Small said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

The newly expanded Central Fire Station in Cumberland is about three times the size of the original 1968 structure. Four smaller apparatus bays, far right, are what remains of the older structure.

The town of Cumberland created Patty Murphy’s office manager position to facilitate the growing needs of the expanded Central Fire Station. Fire Chief Dan Small is accordingly going from part to full time.

The expanded fire station includes a kitchen and living room space where people can relax between shifts.

A fully equipped gym is another feature in the new and improved Central Fire Station.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.