Corinth Firehouse Plans Take It to Another Level
Neil Young, left, 83, former East Corinth fire chief, and current chief Ed Pospisil talk while being photographed at the fire station in Corinth, Vt., on March 28, 2014. Corinth will have a vote on Monday night about funding to replace the station, which was built in 1964. (Valley News - Will Parson)
A deputy chief's helmet rests on a shelf between the East Corinth fire station's two engines in Corinth, Vt., on March 28, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson)
An artist's rendering shows the proposed Corinth fire station, to be voted on by the town on Monday, March 31, 2014. (Courtesy EHDanson Associates, PLLC)
Corinth — While it may be a modestly priced project by today’s standards and construction costs, the proposed $1.16 million Corinth Fire Station is nevertheless a far cry from the firehouse built 50 years ago in East Corinth Village.
“It was $3,330 for everything,” said Neil Young, the chief between 1961 and 1979 of what was then known as the East Corinth Fire Department.
“We did all the work; all the firemen were in on it, and not just East Corinth,” he said of the construction project years ago. (According to an online inflation calculator, that $3,330 would compute to about $25,220 today).
“There was West Topsham, East Topsham and Waits River — what’s now the Tri Village Department — and Corinth and Cookeville,” said Young, now 83.
There’s been some confusion in town regarding just how old the aging and undersized firehouse in East Corinth is. At a public informational meeting last week on the new project, the year 1940 was thrown around. Wrong, says the man who should know.
“That firehouse was built in 1964. We started in summer and were finished before snowfall. The East Corinth department was formed in 1940; I think that’s how the confusion got started. I didn’t get to that last meeting. I wish I’d been there,” Young said.
About 40 people were on hand at the town hall in Cookeville for that final explanation of the project.
Voters will cast ballots Monday to decide whether to approve a $1.16 million bond which would enable the town to build the firehouse.
The new building is planned for a site on Fairgrounds Road off Route 25 near the ballfields at a spot where Corinth holds its annual flea market in the warm weather.
As usual when there’s an issue involving the fire department, Corinth Fire Chief Ed Pospisil was front and center at the informational meeting, boosting his department that now stands at 31 members.
A new station is a necessity, not a luxury, he insisted.
“We did 70 runs last year. We drilled for four hours in the snow the other night, and there was not one complaint. They’re here for you 24/7,” he told the gathering.
The department’s equipment is now up to at least a half-dozen fire engines, most of which Pospisil, a retired Hartford, Conn., Fire Department captain, has obtained at little or no cost to the town thanks to his many fire service connections in southern New England and beyond.
Modern fire engines can run 35 feet in length. They simply don’t fit in the town’s two stations, the one from Young’s era and another built in the 1980s behind town hall. That one, though cramped now as well, would remain in service to keep a couple of engines available on that side of town.
Years ago, when fire engines were much smaller, the town’s firehouses were fine, Pospisil told the audience, but not now.
Mark Wheeler, senior project manager for EH Danson Associates of St. Johnsbury, Vt., the architects, was at last week’s meeting, and described the 5,600-square-foot building that would have room for four fire engines and a rescue vehicle.
There will be washrooms, a shower, and rooms for meetings, storage and communications, he said.
Pospisil — who is in his third year as Corinth’s chief — said a commercial-grade washer and dryer will be on site, as well, so firefighters won’t have to ruin their home appliances trying to get industrial-strength dirt out of their uniforms and other clothing following a fire run.
Ryan Dodge, a member of the study committee for the fire station project, said if the vote is yes, town officials would likely opt for a 20-year bond.
The committee provided figures that showed the project would add about $130 in new taxes on homes assessed at $200,000.
Young, meanwhile, acknowledges the need for Corinth to update its firehouses, but admits the cost brings him up short. He thinks it’s a big bite for a small town.
The former chief said he’s well aware that times have changed, even in rural Corinth. He marvels at the array of modern firefighting gear that fills fire stations now, and agrees firefighters should have it.
“We went to fires in whatever we happened to be wearing,” he said.
Voting Monday will run between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Town Hall. There were 966 registered voters on the checklist as of Town Meeting on March 4.