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Bernardston eyes bigger fire station

The Bernardston Fire Department off Church Street.
Recorder/Micky Bedell

The Bernardston Fire Department off Church Street. Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

BERNARDSTON — The Fire Department has outgrown its Church Street station, and is looking to the east, west and elsewhere to find more space.

Fire Chief Peter Shedd said there are several options for a bigger station.

Two involve adding onto the current station. One of those plans would extend the building to the east, the other would build out to the west.

The third option is to find a piece of town-owned land or buy a buildable lot and start from scratch. In that case, Selectman Robert Raymond said, a prefabricated building could be erected, as was done with the current police station.

The current three-bay fire station, built in 1973, is simply too small to fit the department’s trucks, gear and personnel, Shedd said.

“Fire trucks were a lot smaller in the 1970s,” said Shedd.

Modern fire engines would have to be custom-built to fit through the station’s bay doors.

“That limits our options, and it can be more expensive to order a custom vehicle than to buy a commercially available truck.”

“It’s not just the trucks, either,” Shedd continued. “We have 25 members on the department. When we have our monthly meetings, we can’t fit everyone inside.”

Firefighters wind up spilling out of the meeting room, into the garage bays and out onto the station’s driveway whenever they need to meet.

The project is still in its early stages. Shedd said the Fire Department has been working with a local architect to draw up some preliminary plans.

Shedd said he’s not sure whether the town would set aside money each year and save toward a new station, or borrow the full amount to expedite the project. Either way, the project would be subject to approval at town meeting.

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