Saratoga County

Malta fire station opens up space, closes distance

The new Malta central fire station has something the town’s volunteer firefighters haven’t been used
The new Malta central fire station on Hemphill Place is close to the growing downtown area.
The new Malta central fire station on Hemphill Place is close to the growing downtown area.

The new Malta central fire station has something the town’s volunteer firefighters haven’t been used to in recent years — room.

A ladder truck that was cramped in a bay at the Malta Ridge fire station is surrounded by space in its new home, and there’s even room in the building for a couple more firefighting vehicles beyond the five now stationed there.

“This should last a long time,” said Frank Mazza, Round Lake’s fire chief and president of The Fire Companies of Malta, which owns the new station.

Trucks previously at other locations were moved into the $3.7 million facility in October, giving the town its first major fire station in the growing downtown area. The equipment was moved from other locations, with no net increase in the number of fire trucks.

The station is on Hemphill Place in the heart of the downtown, just a few hundred feet from the routes 9 and 67 roundabout.

“It’s going to mean quicker response times, because a lot of our guys live in Luther Forest,” Mazza said during a tour of the station on Tuesday. “It will mean they don’t have to go out in Route 9 traffic to get to their station.”

The two-story masonry and steel building is the only fire station in Saratoga County shared by two volunteer companies — Round Lake, which protects the southern half of town, and Malta Ridge, which protects the northern half.

The companies, which have been rivals in the past, now drill together once a month, and combined crews have recently ridden from the central station.

When a call comes in for either fire company, Mazza said, firefighters respond to the nearest station, either their main station or the new station, so responders are coming from two stations to every call.

Each fire company has its main station deep within its own territory, at the northern and southern ends of town. Until now, each had just a small substation closer to the center of town, despite it being the fastest-growing area.

The new station is owned by The Fire Companies of Malta, a nonprofit organization formed by the Malta Ridge and Round Lake companies. To finance the building, each company pays rent: $185,000 each this year, with the rent to rise over time.

The equipment to be stored there includes Round Lake’s rescue boat, since the location is halfway between the town’s water bodies, Saratoga Lake and Round Lake.

Building a central fire station was the major recommendation of a 2009 town fire protection study.

The central area near Northway Exit 12 has been the fastest-growing part of town in recent years, with commercial development and a major apartment complex going up. The new facility is also the closest station to the GlobalFoundries Fab 8 computer chip plant at the Luther Forest Technology Campus, though Mazza said it has generated few fire calls.

When serious planning for the station started in 2012, the fire companies hired landscape architects The LA Group of Saratoga Springs to design the site and architects Butler Rowland Mays of Ballston Spa to design the building.

The new building has about 14,000 square feet of space, including a second floor that is unfinished but could someday be converted into residential quarters if the town needs paid professional firefighters, as many expect.

“If we needed it someday, there could be showers and bunk beds,” Mazza said.

The new location in the Parade Ground Village development was firefighters’ second choice. They earlier considered building the station on town-owned land on Dunning Street, but that location was opposed by many residents of the adjoining Luther Forest housing development.

The building was built by Bonacio Construction of Saratoga Springs.

Categories: Schenectady County

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