Fire station construction slows


ANDOVER – With the onset of cold weather, work that began last summer on the new East Andover fire station has slowed. Additionally, only about a third of the estimated $85,000 needed to build it, has been raised by the Andover Firemen’s Association.

Still, the man behind the ambitious project, fire Chief Ken Dixon, remains undaunted.

“So far, we’ve raised $30,000, so, it’s coming along. But, like any other volunteer project, you have to schedule around the availability of manpower,” Dixon said Thursday afternoon at Andover’s main station.

“We had a couple of substantial donors. That has really been a tremendous shot in the arm. Additionally, the locals have been very helpful and the contractors have been outstanding,” he said.

The project flies in the face of a majority of town meeting voters, who, through the years, chose not to replace the tiny 1940s station at Farmers Hill and East Andover roads. That’s why the nonprofit association bought land down the road from the old station and took on the project.

The antiquated station just barely houses the department’s smallest firetruck, a 1977 Howe pumper that the town bought along with two others from Cliffside Park, N.J. Firefighters had to retrofit the station to accommodate that truck, which fits snugly, with 6 inches to spare in back and another 6 inches in front.

Additionally, Dixon said, because of that the driver must slowly inch forward to leave the bay and risk entering East Andover Road without being able to see northbound traffic due to a high crown in the road.

The new station sits well back in a lot fronting the road. And, unlike the old station, firetrucks can turn either north or south. Leaving the old station, drivers could only turn northbound, because the firetruck couldn’t make the tight turn to go south.

Dixon said he hopes the new station will be completed enough by summer to house firetrucks and rescue gear that is either sitting outside or packed into the Route 5 station.

That station was built to house five firetrucks, but two additional trucks are squeezed in between bays.

“We need to have room to do maintenance on a truck without fear of banging the truck next to it. We’ve been fortunate in getting the department up to what it is today, and being able to provide services, but, we still need room to train,” Dixon said.

Realizing that fundraising is a long-term endeavor, he said more efforts are being planned.

And, even though a majority didn’t want to build a new station, there’s another article pertaining to the station in the next town meeting warrant in March.

“It’s to hopefully authorize selectmen to negotiate a lease arrangement with the association for use of the building for a fire station. We wanted to make it legal, so the town could buy fuel and pay the light bill. It would be a long-term lease for a token dollar,” Dixon said.