BALLSTON SPA — The Burnt Hills Fire Department held a public hearing on Tuesday to get input on building a $3.2 million firehouse.
The volunteer Fire Department is looking to build a 7,000-square-foot building on property that was donated to them by the Curtis family of Curtis Lumber at 330 Charlton Road in Ballston Spa. The late Robert Curtis was a member of the Burnt Hills Fire Department.
The new facility would replace the Fire Department’s more than 50-year-old, 1,500-square-foot Station 2 on Charlton Road in Ballston Spa.
Sean Foran, executive project manager from Syracuse-based Hueber-Breuer Construction Co., led the meeting at the department’s headquarters at 811 Saratoga Road in Burnt Hills.
The Fire Department is seeking residents’ approval to bond up to $3.2 million for the project. The nearly 1,900 registered voters who live within the fire district are eligible to vote for the bond referendum, which will be held from noon to 9 p.m. on Jan. 9 at Station 1, located at 811 Saratoga Road in Burnt Hills.
Foran said several options were explored to solve the department’s needs.
“We looked at renovating and combining both fire stations, and determined that a standalone Station 2 is the best option to serve the north portion of the fire district,” he said. “We think it will serve the purpose it’s intended to do.”
The new Station 2 firehouse would be two floors and feature three fire truck bays, an area for firefighter equipment and separate area for office space.
The tax increase for residents in the fire district, which spans 15 square miles, would be $32 more than their current tax payment for a home with an assessed value of $100,000, $48 for a home valued at $150,000 and $64 for a $200,000 home.
“We’ve gone over the square footage four times and there’s nowhere to cut this,” Foran said to audience about making the facility smaller. “If we cut this, not only will it not serve you well the day it opens, but it won’t serve you well 20 years down the road.”
Burnt Hills resident Larry Rabideau said he doesn’t think it makes sense to have two fire stations when a large number of calls are likely due to car accidents and new homes are built better.
“It’s the old houses you have to worry about catching fire,” he said. “The quality of the work to new homes is way better today, so why not have one big fire truck and the rest light rescue trucks?”
Rabideau added that the Fire Department’s nearly 60-year-old headquarters on Saratoga Road would need to be replaced in the future.
“Maybe we should improve this fire station and have things centered out of here instead,” he said of the headquarters.
“I’m going to support what they decide is best, but we should work together to figure something out that’s better for the taxpayers.”
Holly B. Fowler, a member of the Burnt Hills Fire Department Auxiliary, said she’s been in support of the project from the start.
“I’ve been to Station 2 and trying to do anything there is impossible,” she said. “When all the firefighters are there at one time, many of them have to sit in their trucks because they don’t all fit in there at once.
“Let’s have somewhere comfortable for them with showers since many of them go to work after calls.”
Greg Bradtke, chairman of the building committee, said his shoes have gotten run over when trying to put his gear on at Station 2.
“There’s nowhere to get dressed,” he said. “We’re climbing over each other to get our gear on.”
Bradtke added that the Fire Department spends an extra $50,000 per fire truck in order for them to fit into Station 2.
“We could buy pre-designed trucks for significantly less money,” he said.
One of the fire trucks at Station 2 costs more than $400,000 and Bradtke said prices rise each year.
“It’s tight,” he said of Station 2. “We need more space.”
Construction could begin as early as May with the facility opening by next December, pending approval by residents.
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