South Portland Fire Chief James Wilson speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opening the department’s newest fire station on Cash Corner Tuesday. The station was built on the site of the original station, which dated back to the 1970s and was razed in early 2020. Sean Murphy / The Forecaster

South Portland city and fire officials opened the new Cash Corner fire station at a ceremony  Tuesday after more than a year of construction.

Fire Chief James Wilson, in remarks at a ribbon-cutting, thanked voters who approved the new $7.5 million building.

“This is your fire station, and I encourage you to stop by for a tour when you get a chance,” Wilson said.

The new station represents an upgrade to the original building, which dated back to the 1970s and was razed in early 2020. The old building, fire officials said, was outdated and too small for the department’s needs for years, but the discovery of mold in the walls in 2018 led to the decision to replace it with the new structure.

On Tuesday, Wilson praised Sebago Technics and its contractors for continuing their work building the new station, despite beginning just before the coronavirus pandemic began.

“This project didn’t shut down,” he said. “It kept going right through.”

City Manager Scott Morelli was on hand for the ceremony, along with City Councilors April Caricchio and Katherine Lewis, all of whom said they were pleased with the new station.

“We as a city wanted the best for our public safety, fire and emergency personnel,” Lewis said.

The station has two stories and occupies a total of 17,000 square feet, more than double the previous station’s 7,400 square feet. It has 10 bedrooms, enough space for a minimum of three full-time firefighters on duty at all times, along with accommodations for call firefighters who might be stationed there and any new full-time firefighters assigned in the future.

Vehicle bays house the station’s ladder truck, but the department will store another ladder truck there as well, along with two engines, an ambulance and other equipment now stored elsewhere in the city. What really makes the station unique, however, is a stairwell that can be converted into a training environment for firefighters, which Wilson said was a first for South Portland.

“A lot of departments are doing that,” Wilson said.

Having in-house training facilities allows the department to train year-round, and will likely be a feature of future fire station upgrades in the city, Wilson said.

Fire Capt. Jeffrey Rogers, who is in charge of the station, said he and his fire and medical personnel had been temporarily relocated to the West End during construction. When on duty overnight, he said, he’s been sleeping in an office. On Tuesday, he said, his department was in the process of moving all equipment and personnel into their new home.

“We’re just excited to get in,” he said.

Comments are not available on this story.