CUMBERLAND — Progress on the renovated and expanded Central Fire Station continues at a rapid pace, with full occupancy expected next spring.

Two fire engines have already moved back into the bays at 366 Tuttle Road, and the project remains on budget, a team involved with the construction process said during a Dec. 13 tour of the building.

The Town Council in November unanimously approved borrowing up to $4.1 million, including contingency funds, to construct an addition to the one-story building built in 1968. Most of the project funds come from the town’s capital budget, according to Councilor Tom Gruber.

With the station’s administrative section demolished in May, in its place and on a neighboring property now stand a two-story addition, along with a lower level accessed off a planned 27-space parking lot for visitors. An existing parking lot with 22 spaces for staff remains, along with the station’s apparatus bay.

The approximately 18,000-square-foot building is about three times the size of the original.

“We’re trying to plan for at least 50 years ahead,” Town Councilor Bill Stiles said. “We’re hoping we’ll go for 75.”

The station largely sits on property that previously had a house, purchased by the town in 1993 with an eye toward future expansion, and used for sleeping quarters for emergency personnel. That house has since been sold and moved.

During construction the Fire Department has temporarily moved its offices down the street to the lower level of Town Hall, next to the police station.

“I suspect, before the end of the year, we will be pretty darn close to all the Sheetrock being hung,” project manager Scott Clark of Ledgewood Construction said during the tour. “We’ve already started painting on the lower level.”

The first floor of the expanded building will house apparatus bays, administrative areas and community paramedicine space; the second will have living quarters, a day room, and kitchen and fitness areas. Training and medical equipment, an emergency operations center and a kitchen and community room are planned for the lower level.

The building will have nine bunk rooms, with an office that can be converted to house another. There is also space for cots.

“The ambulance calls are growing, and those people need to stay in the building,” said Andy Hyland, principal of Port City Architecture. “That’s the trend throughout firefighting, that there’s more people living on the premises, so we try to plan for that.”

The older wing sits on a grade roughly 8 feet higher than the new construction. An elevator will provide access to the various levels, and a fire pole will be installed.

Brian Cashin, a Cumberland emergency medical technician and vice chairman of the project’s building committee, has watched the endeavor develop from conception.

“It’s almost like watching a child grow,” he said. “It’s been challenging getting here; everything didn’t really come together as magically as we had hoped. But we’re moving along.”

He pointed to the two fire engines in the coop downstairs.

“That was the plan, to retain the four existing bays, as opposed to demolishing the whole thing, so we could get in before the first snowfall,” Cashin explained. “Well, we moved in Saturday morning; it snowed Saturday afternoon.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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