DUMMERSTON—“We have a fire truck in our department than cannot fit in our own firehouse,” Dummerston Fire Chief Rick Looman told the Selectboard at its July 22 regular meeting.
Looman shared this story to explain why the town needs to support his department’s efforts to build a new fire station to replace the one on East-West Road, behind the Congregational Church. He hopes to break ground next spring.
The Dummerston Center Fire Station also cannot house other towns’ trucks when they are there to help the town fight larger fires and need to recharge their pumps, Looman added.
Firetrucks are getting bigger, he said, to comply with safety and emissions regulations.
“And they’re not getting any smaller,” he added.
Plans are still in the preliminary phase, Looman and Assistant Chief Martin Forrett told the board, but they had some details.
The new firehouse will closely resemble the West Street station, but will have two bays instead of three. One bay will hold a pumper truck; the other will house the rescue truck. The new structure will have a single story, and will have roughly the same square-footage as the current building, but will be longer to accommodate the larger, modern trucks.
Martin said the department’s rough estimate of the cost is $250,000.
“We feel this is the best for the town of Dummerston,” Looman said. He said he is certain the town needs two fire stations because “every second counts” in a fire, and having two stations makes it easier for the fire department to cover Dummerston, which, he noted, contains “three corridors through town” and “we’re bound between mountains and rivers."
Board member Jerelyn Wilson urged Looman and Forrett to publish letters in every issue of the Views of Dummerston newsletter explaining why the town needs a new firehouse. “Speaking as a townsperson,” Wilson said, “I didn’t even know you were thinking of this."
“We love our fire department,” she added.
Wilson also said she looks forward to learning more about the fire department’s plans as they emerge.
Looman and Forrett told the board they formed a special committee just for this project, and fundraising plans are in the works.
But, he said, “we need the support of the town and the taxpayers to do this."
“We can try to soak up a lot of this [cost] but we don’t think we can do it all,” Looman said.
Selectboard Chair Zeke Goodband said it is critical for the town to support the new fire station beyond what the fire department can raise on its own.
“There’s only so much you can do with sugar-on-snow” supper fundraisers, he said.
“I think it’s money well-spent by the town,” Goodband said, adding, “If you have a chimney fire, I find more comfort in calling the fire department than the planning commission."