PERU — The staff and students at Region 9 Applied School of Technology in Mexico are building up their community — by tearing things down.

It began as a training opportunity. Peru Fire Chief Bill Hussey offered up the walls of the old Worthley Pond fire station to fire science instructor Jon Longley, so his students could practice masonry wall breaching, a required skill for firefighters, in a real-life situation.

When that training was complete, Hussey offered the ceiling for the students to pull down — another required skill.

“That’s what sparked the conversation and current plans, as Chief Hussey expressed his frustrations on completing the project and the delays he has encountered,” Longley said.

Voters approved plans for a new Worthley Pond fire station in June 2016. Since then, the project has met several bumps in the road, so many that Hussey took it upon himself to try to finish the project, and was found painting the new building and hanging a door, on his birthday.

“My crew found this unacceptable and began listing what needed to be done that we could task others with to help the cause,” Longley said. “It has now turned into a school-wide project with students and staff asking what they can do to help.” 

It is indeed school-wide, with every department contributing. On Oct. 4, Hussey and Longley planned a “work party” to demolish the old fire station.

Students of the CDL program (Class A and B professional truck driver training) led by instructor Eddy Naples, brought their dump truck to the work site on Worthley Pond Road, sorted the demolition debris and reclaimed much of the wood from the old building.

Student Robert Sicott, 18, of Greenwood, drove the dump truck, and Naples said it was a good experience before his upcoming road test.

“This gave us a chance to work on a site where there was equipment loading trucks,” Naples said. “We had to make sure the load was secure, then we headed up the road to someone’s house, and dumped off the load to be used as landfill.” 

Forestry students, along with instructors Jon Burnette and Mark Beaudoin, assisted in knocking down the building, cutting trees and sawing them into lumber using their portable sawmill.

The building construction students, led by instructor Lloyd Williams, tore the roof off the old building, which was a different experience for them. They usually build things up, not tear them down.

“We don’t teach how to tear things apart, but sometimes that’s how you learn how to put things together,” Williams said.

Building construction students also will make shelves for the new building, using the lumber cut by the forestry students.

Breakfast sandwiches, pizza and muffins were provided by the employability skills students and instructor Jen Barlow, and sweet treats were provided by the culinary arts students and instructor Ryan Kimball.

“(The students) were very timely; they were really on their game that day,” Barlow said.

It was a refreshing change for the culinary students, their first “catering” job.

“Usually, we eat our food ourselves, so the students got a lot of satisfaction from seeing their food enjoyed by others. It’s just a good feeling,” Kimball said.

Because of a shortage of bus drivers that day, head custodian Randy Gallant offered to drive the food, and the students who made it, out to the work site.

“Without him, we wouldn’t have had our food,” Longley said.

Students of the metal trades program, with instructor Pete Barlow, will build a cabinet toolbox to be placed on the side of the firetruck. The toolbox will carry the town’s Turbodraft, a tool that allows rural fire departments to pull water from sources that would otherwise be inaccessible.

The firetruck also will receive routine maintenance, courtesy of the students of the automotive program and instructor Brian Mills, and a thorough detailing from a few employability skills students and their other instructor, Norm Jamison.

“This is a win-win for all parties,” Region 9 Director Brenda Gammon said. “The project will be completed at no cost to the taxpayers, while our youth are trained in their respective job fields, gaining valuable experience in a real-life environment.” 

Fire science student Britney Murphy, 17, of Dixfield, said working on the project helped her come out of her comfort zone. She said another student who was afraid of heights got up on a ladder that day.

“It’s going to make us better firefighters,” said fire science student Kody Moretto, 15, of Dixfield.

Hussey said he was incredibly grateful for the help and impressed with the young workers.

“The students were very polite, focused and hardworking,” Hussey said. “There were many onlookers who were amazed at the energy of the students.” 

The new fire station, at 131 Greenwoods Road, is just about done, Hussey said, with the exception of some final interior work, and Peru’s Engine 12 is now parked in its new home.

“Thank you to all who have helped with this project,” he said. “It will last many years and is an asset for the town.” 

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Peru Fire Chief Bill Hussey at the “work party” Oct. 4, when students and staff from Region 9 Applied School of Technology helped knock down the old fire station on Worthley Pond Road.  

Region 9 forestry instructor Mark Beaudoin supervises student Kody Verrill, 19, of Bethel, as he knocks down a wall with an excavator Oct. 4 at the old Worthley Pond fire station in Peru. 

Region 9 fire science students Franklyn MacDonald, 17, Kody Moretto, 15, and Britney Murphy, 17, all of Dixfield, practice making a hole in the wall using a triangular formation Oct. 4 during the “work party” to demolish the old Worthley Pond fire station on Worthley Pond Road in Peru. 

The remains of the old Worthley Pond fire station on Worthley Pond Road in Peru. The old building was demolished Oct. 4 with help from Region 9 staff and students.


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