The renovated Fire Station 4 has a lot of enhancements — bigger doors for the trucks, separate bathrooms for male and female firefighters, an absolutely enormous refrigerator. But the most important improvements are something basic, especially for firefighters.
“We now have better ventilation and a sprinkler system,” said union President Tom Lopez as he led a tour of the building. “Health and safety are huge for us, as well as the morale [the new station] brings.”
The $2.9 million reconstruction of Station 4 is the first of what Mayor David Cohen said would be a citywide rehabilitation of firehouses. Station 7 on Eliot Street is next on the list to be repaired.
Over the past several years, firefighters have criticized the city for failing to improve the stations, frequently citing leaky roofs, poor exhaust ventilation and the lack of sprinklers.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week, Cohen thanked “all the members of the fire department who advocated so long and so well for this improvement,” especially the inhabitants of Station 4 themselves, who had to deal with construction for months.
“[Their] patience and inconvenience is now being rewarded with this facility,” Cohen said.
Mayor-elect Setti Warren said the city needs to better fund its Fire Department.
“We need to make sure every person in the Fire Department has proper equipment, proper manning and proper training,” Warren said.
Training should be easier than in the past: The station’s old kitchen is now a handicapped-accessible training center that can be used for CPR instruction, HAZMAT training and other classes. The room can also be set up as a second dispatch area and serve as the response headquarters in case of a citywide emergency, Lopez said.
The kitchen has been moved to the second floor and leads into a spacious dining room on one end and a lounge with armchairs on the other. Visitors looking at the area for the first time were impressed; one, an abutter of the station, demanded the firefighters hold barbecues and invite the neighborhood.
The second floor was completely reorganized. Instead of one main bunkroom and locker room, a series of two-bed bunkrooms with their own lockers line a square hallway. That contains bathrooms — both male and female — as opposed to the unisex ones previously at the station.
The garage saw less work, but the doors were widened and lengthened to 12 and 14 feet, respectively. Now the ladder truck can fit inside, Lopez said.