The West End Fire Station is back in business in the City of Newburgh. The station closed months ago due to asbestos, which was remediated by ACA Environmentals and reopened on Friday.
The station had three areas in need of remediation, a portion of the wall in the kitchen, near the stairwell, and in the living quarters. The plaster containing asbestos was removed and plastered over. The station is still in need of fire rated doors in the kitchen and the living quarters to keep out the fumes from the trucks and remediation of mold in the kitchen bathroom.
“This has been an issue for the 19 years that I’ve been with the department,” said Acting Chief Terry Ahlers. “I am happy to see the progress that has been made. It was taking us five to 10 minutes to get to this end of the city now it will take us two to three minutes. The faster we can get the water on the fire the better the situation will turn out in the end.”
The station was evacuated in September 2018 with a price tag of $30,785 to ACA Environmental Services for the asbestos remediation, a number much smaller than originally anticipated. Ahlers believes the station is not in condition for long term use, as long as the smaller changes are made and the building is monitored going forward.
During the stations closure Ahlers recalls a fire on Broadway with people trapped inside. Their location at 22 Grand Street led to a longer response time and a much harder fire to control in the process.
“We were lucky the police department was there to get them out,” said Ahlers. “It’s not like we can just get anywhere that quickly in the city with a 40 to 60 ton fire truck moving uphill.”
Firefighters are happy to move back into the station. They will be able to do their jobs more efficiently now that they are closer to the other end of the city.
“We are just happy the new comptroller pushed this issue and realized the need for the station,” said Brendan Hogan, president of Local 589 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “The minor things pale in comparison to covering this end of the city. There’s a good reason we have two fire stations on each end.”
The department is still not out of the clear as 22 Grand Street still faces severe structural issues that may lead to a relocation in the near future.
Councilman Bob Sklarz took a tour of the building to see firsthand the issues that face the building.
“I had the opportunity to tour the public safety building with QuEST Inc.,” said Sklarz. “I went in there with the idea that yeah it’s in bad shape but it’s much worse than I anticipated. The staff are living in very dire conditions and I know there’s a lot of work to get done to put it in better shape. On the plus side I had the opportunity to participate in the opening of the West End Fire House. The important thing is it makes the West End a bit more safe and we are really glad to have it back open.”