When Scotia firefighters respond to a call they have barely enough room to open the firetruck doors.
The vehicles are so tightly backed into the 115-year-old fire station that one truck is mere centimeters from the wall.
The department can’t even fit all of its vehicles in the building and leaves at least one outside.
The lack of space is why district representatives are making another push for resident support to build an entirely new 16,000-square-foot facility, give or take, at one of three locations.
The station is so small it offers no room for adequate contamination cleaning or for cleaning equipment, said Fire Chief Ken Almy.
He said the fire district needs new quarters so firefighters can do their jobs efficiently.
“We’re not asking for a Taj Mahal,” he said.
Discussions surrounding a new facility have taken place over the years, but have not really progressed. That is until this year.
“This is the closest we’ve come so far to having a new facility,” Almy said. “The safety of the people of this department is paramount.”
The town is preparing to host informational sessions on three properties where a new station could go, said Mayor Tom Gifford, who has been a volunteer firefighter with the department for 40 years.
The favorite location choice among some officials, but least likely location to build a new station, is on about seven-tenths of an acre near the Scotia Branch Library.
The citizens’ committee charged with helping find a property to build on had previously suggested this area, which was met with criticism by residents, Gifford and Almy said.
If the land was used it would need to be approved by the state and the town would provide other lands back to the park in another area of the park, Gifford said.
What makes that location a great spot is that it’s flat and still close to the heart of the village, Gifford said. The village would be able to build a one-story facility at the location too, he said, making it cheaper.
Another option would be to buy land at 1 and 7 Collins St., which are properties owned by the same person.
“He’s willing to sell them for a lot of money,” Gifford said.
However, Gifford said both properties currently have occupied apartments on them, so buying the property would displace 10 families. That location would cost the town probably at least $2 million more than the other options, Gifford said.
He said the facility would also have to be two-story there, costing more.
The final option, which will likely attract the most support, according to Gifford, would be to put the building behind the current station and village hall on the site of the current municipal parking lot.
That idea had been considered before and became more of an option after the town and Stewart’s Shops agreed that Stewart’s would get the parking lot behind its building currently used by the police department and a parking lot for the village would be created at 125 James St. — just across the street from the village hall.
Having a parking lot there provides the space for the fire department to navigate its ladder truck into the station, should it decide to build in that area, Gifford said.
The town would need to assess the viability of that option because a slope on that land could prove challenging for fire trucks. That location would also need to be a two-story building, Gifford said.
That choice, would, however, keep the firehouse relatively in the same location as the current station, police department and village hall.
Once the village has a general consensus on which property to go with, Gifford said the project will be put to a referendum.
After the new station is complete the village plans to continue with improvements to municipal facilities by gutting village hall and reconfiguring it to better suit town hall employees, the court system and the police department, Gifford said.
Village hall, which has some areas dating back to when the fire station was built and other areas built in the 1920s, is facing similar problems with spacing. The building isn’t compliant with the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Gifford said there have been instances when people could not make it up the steps to court so the judge went to them.
The roof leaks and recently the heat had been going in and out because the equipment was old.
“This place is killing us,” he said.
Gifford said the informational meetings would likely take place in mid-February.
Reach Shenandoah Briere @[email protected]