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Ground Broken For New Fire Department Headquarters

Construction machines rumbled in the background as officials used gold-tinted shovels labeled Central Station Groundbreaking to dig into a mound of dirt.

A group of firefighters joined city and state officials Tuesday afternoon at a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Fire Department headquarters being constructed at 121 Connecticut Ave.

Designed to be a three-story structure containing 31,000 square feet and costing $14 million, the new headquarters will also house the fire companies and apparatus for Station 2, and will serve as the city's emergency operations center.

The building will be on the site of the city's previous fire headquarters, the Charles A. Volk Central Station, which was demolished earlier this year. The ceremony was held on the west end of the site while excavation machines and other equipment rumbled away preparing the site's east end for the start of construction.

Deputy Chief Ed Prescott, who led the new building's design team, said its members "spent countless hours researching and networking with other departments to bring back the best possible ideas for our department."

Prescott said a fire station is different from other municipal buildings to the degree that it must provide functionality, durability and a safe work environment for a period of 50 or more years.

The previous headquarters building was constructed in 1963, and was plagued by structural and mechanical problems. The firefighters and apparatus of Station 2 have temporarily moved to a building at 100 Fairfield Ave., where the department's apparatus maintenance facility is located. The department's administration and fire marshals offices are operating out of a building at 141 East Ave.

Chief Denis McCarthy noted that his department has construction projects in progress at all five of its stations.

 The headquarters building is scheduled to be completed in 18 months.

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