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New Norwalk firehouse open to the public Saturday

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Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy shows off the mess hall in the new Norwalk firehouse.

NORWALK, Conn. – An audience is all Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy needs to pass time in a pleasurable fashion, explaining in detail Norwalk’s new firehouse.

McCarthy was scheduled to give Common Council members a half hour tour of the new firehouse Thursday, but instead kept them for nearly an hour. Today, McCarthy gets another chance to lead visitors around the department’s new pride and joy, as a 1 p.m. dedication of the new facility on Connecticut Avenue is open to the public.

The new building might look different than the old Volk Fire Station, but it’s got things in common with it, McCarthy said.

“The building is on the same footprint as the old building,” he said. “The old building had a basement and no attic. This building has no basement and a third floor, and a peaked roof, which really when people go, ‘Oh my God, it’s so big,’ well, really, it’s another floor and the peaked roof that really makes it. And they cut all the trees down around it which really makes the building stand out.”

It’s got 7,000 square feet more than the Volk Fire Station, but much of it is used for new purposes, including the 1,000-square-foot Emergency Operations Center and the 1,000-square-foot Board of Education data center. The EOC was paid for with a federal grant, and its facilities, such as video conferencing, are available to other city departments as needed, he said.

McCarthy requested and got a “traditional New England firehouse” feel to the interior furnishings, inspired by a firehouse in Peabody, Mass., where he is from. That means dark wainscoting and warm tones on the walls. Bamboo flooring in the common area is environmentally friendly, he said, and rather than go with tiles in the firefighting spaces, the building features stained concrete.

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This bell also hung in the Volk Fire Station.

More colorful is the station bell forged in 1882, now hanging in the firehouse’s atrium. Visitors to the third floor might be impressed by the poles heading down from the firefighter’s living area to the second floor, a fast and safe exit when there is a call.

McCarthy said new standards limit a pole to 14 feet, so firefighters go down one pole and then another to get to their apparatus.

Criss-crossing beams on the outside walls might seem odd, but they’re needed for rigidity in the slim-yet-tall building, McCarthy said.

The emergency-oriented facets of the building go beyond officials coordinating disaster response with high-tech equipment during a snowstorm or hurricane.

“Right now, DPW folks go find a meal somewhere,” he said. “They’ll come here and they’ll eat. They’ll get back to work quicker, but, more importantly, they’ll understand what’s going on. Part of the disaster response is really understanding what’s going on in the rest of the response so having people in a central location where they can rub elbows, share information, understand the bigger picture, is part of what we hope this facility will offer.”

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Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy shows off the apparatus area to Sarah Mann and other council members.

Comments

4 responses to “New Norwalk firehouse open to the public Saturday”

  1. Firedog Fred

    Hey Chief, have the popcorn ready?
    Here we come.
    Congrats guys.
    Certanily deserved and
    earned your new digs.
    Good health, long life.

  2. Cool Shinny Pole, to save precious time

    Seems like much thought and effort did go into getting the design right and effecient.
    Must have been some input incorporatuing an emergency access ramp to NB 95. The timing was right, with DOT doing all that work right there. An access behind the toy store is difficult to secure and use but on station property? Seems like a no brainer. Other stations in other states do have direct access to respond and save lives especially in high accident zones. Would’nt take much, little grading, some asphlat,
    a fence and walla, instant 4 mins saved on response time to NB wrecks. Lives can be saved and pass in four minutes. Just asking, why we didnt get it done? DOT already graded a temporary ramp, although in the opposite direction needed.

  3. Cool Shinny Pole, to save precious time

    Correction; SB, South Bound, not NB, North Bound, that would be too much to ask for.

  4. Don’t Panic

    Let’s hope that this location is not prone to flooding after storms.

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