SARATOGA COUNTY — Two Saratoga County fire departments are building new firehouses to replace aging structures that barely accommodate today's taller firetrucks.
Round Lake Hose Company
The Round Lake Hose Company demolished its 40-year-old firehouse at 13 Curry Ave. in Round Lake earlier this month.
Fire Department President Tom Mazza said the single-story, 6,400-square-foot firehouse, comprising four bays, an office, kitchen and meeting room that could hold up to 50 people, had a 20- to 25-year life span.
"The driving force behind the decision to demolish the building was that firetrucks were a lot smaller then than they are now," he said. "Our trucks now have to be shoehorned in, because the garage door is so small."
The department is temporarily operating from the old Stewart's Shops store on Round Lake Road while a new two-story,14,000-square-foot firehouse is built.
The $3.7 million facility will feature four bays; rooms for gear, gross decontamination and training; as well as two offices, a kitchen and meeting room.
The Round Lake Hose Co.'s fire district stretches north to Route 67 in Malta, south to the Clifton Park town line, east to the Halfmoon town line and as far west as Lake Road in Ballston Lake.
Firefighting equipment will be separate from administrative functions at the department's new facility.
Joe Plewinski, captain of the Round Lake Fire Department, said the decision to separate those departments stems from a rise in cancer among firefighters.
"Fires don't burn the same way they used to," he said. "There's a higher concentration of plastics and synthetic materials, so fighting fires in those environments exposes firefighters to carcinogenic materials. We want to minimize exposure and separate ourselves from those materials as much as possible."
Round Lake's new firehouse will have an extractor machine and forced air dryer to better wash firefighters' gear, a decontamination room to clean gear before it's washed, and a system that will be hooked up to the exhaust pipes on firetrucks, so exhaust fumes are forced out of the room.
The department also plans to equip all of its 70-plus members with a second set of gear.
"It takes about an hour for gear to be properly washed, so if they come back from one call and another alarm goes off, they'll be able to put on their second set of gear and head out," Plewinski said.
Mazza said the department's firetrucks are scheduled to be in the new firehouse by October. He added the project is slated to be complete in January.
"It'll provide a safer place for our members and help increase our response time, because it'll be easier flow for our firefighters from the time they park their car at the firehouse," he said. "The faster you get the apparatus off the floor and on its way to a fire, the better outcome you'll likely have."
Burnt Hills Fire Department
The Burnt Hills Fire Department is also building a new firehouse on property that was donated by the Curtis family, of Curtis Lumber. The land is at 330 Charlton Road in Ballston Spa. The late Robert Curtis was a member of the Burnt Hills Fire Department.
The 45-member department received approval during a Jan. 9 referendum to build the $3.2 million firehouse.
The new 7,000-square-foot structure will replace the department's 50-plus-year-old, 1,500-square-foot Station 2 on Charlton Road in Ballston Spa.
It will feature a tool, gear and equipment room; a decontamination area; laundry and storage; multi-purpose training room; chief's office; district office; radio room; bathrooms; mechanical room; and three bays.
Greg Bradtke, chairman of the Burnt Hills Fire Department building committee, said Station 2 only had two small bays and a bathroom, so the new firehouse will be a substantial upgrade.
"The biggest problem we had at Station 2 was that we had to move one truck in and out at a time," he said. "We have a standing policy that no one can get on the truck inside the firehouse due to space and safety issues."
Bradtke said the department is hoping to occupy the new facility in early December.
"By not having to wait for the trucks to get out, hopefully our response time will improve," he said. "We're also hoping to attract new members with a shiny new firehouse."
The Burnt Hills Fire Department is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony at 4:30 p.m. on May 12.