2017-11-16 / News

Renovated fire station opens to public Saturday


ABOVE: Firefighters transport the 1894 horse-drawn LaFrance steamer from the Caswell Museum to the lobby of the new station Saturday afternoon via Coronado Street. ABOVE: Firefighters transport the 1894 horse-drawn LaFrance steamer from the Caswell Museum to the lobby of the new station Saturday afternoon via Coronado Street. Twenty-nine months ago, taxpayers in town approved $2.2 million to expand the facility on Narragansett Avenue to consolidate firefighters and rescue workers under a single roof. On Saturday morning, the fire department will cut the ribbon for that fire station.

The town is hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to show off the new building, which transports the 1928 station to the 21st century. The renovated facility only needs minor interior touches, like installing blinds on the windows, before work is complete.

“It looks great,” Fire Chief Jim Bryer said Tuesday afternoon. “We still have some painting to do because we want to make the old section nice. But no more construction.”

While the end is near, it was an arduous journey that stretches before Bryer’s tenure started with the department in the 1970s. “There have been talks for as long as I can remember,” he said.


RIGHT: A backhoe in December 2015 peels the wall from the house at 4 Grinnell St. The structure was razed to make room for the western portion of the expanded fire station. 
PHOTOS BYANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN RIGHT: A backhoe in December 2015 peels the wall from the house at 4 Grinnell St. The structure was razed to make room for the western portion of the expanded fire station. PHOTOS BYANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Following approval at the 2015 financial town meeting, which was 58 percent of 501 voters, an outsider had to guide the process through planning and zoning hearings. That’s because the town planner, Lisa Bryer, recused herself; she’s married to the chief.

After the boards agreed to the plans, which included razing the town’s first funeral home at 4 Grinnell St., a request for proposals was advertised. The five qualified contractors, however, disagreed that $2.2 million would be enough. Their bids ranged between $2.6 million and $3 million.

That’s when the slashing began. Siding and roofing to match the expansion would become capital improvements. The elevator lift and exhaust system became a task for the public works department. This light lifting by the town allowed Iron Construction’s bid to come under budget.

The contractor’s carpenters, however, weren’t the only workers on-site. To further make sure the budget wasn’t cracked, Bryer and his fellow firefighters, including his father, brother and Lew Kitts, painted the walls and finished the floors alongside the contractors.

“We had to pull some of the work and do it ourselves,” he said.

Overall, however, there were only a few weather delays that got in the way. “It went very smooth,” he said.

For Saturday’s open house, Bryer said it will be an informal celebration with refreshments to showcase the new digs, which took a year to complete but has been in the works for decades.

“We are leaving the doors open,” he said. “People should just come in and walk around.”

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