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Fire dept. building expansion nears completion

Work continues on the expansion of the Altona Volunteer Fire Department building on Devils Den Road. Christopher Belair, chairman of the department’s board of fire commissioners, said the expansion should be complete by the end of September.

Work continues on the expansion of the Altona Volunteer Fire Department building on Devils Den Road. Christopher Belair, chairman of the department’s board of fire commissioners, said the expansion should be complete by the end of September. Photo by Jeremiah S. Papineau.

— The Altona Volunteer Fire Department is giving its building an upgrade.

Christopher Belair, chairman of the department’s board of fire commissioners, said a 40 ft. by 60 ft. addition has been under construction since June to give the department additional space for its fleet of vehicles and increase space for day-to-day operations.

“We mainly wanted the expansion because we have a number of pieces of equipment that are stored outdoors during the winter,” said Belair. “We wanted to eliminate that because we don’t want them to get ruined.

The department’s brush truck, parade trailer, rescue trailer and four-wheeler — which is used for deep-woods rescues — have traditionally been left outside to face the elements, said Belair, and potential theft.

“We’ve been fortunate to date that nothing has happened to them,” said Belair, who added the concern also played a factor into the need for indoor storage with the expansion.

The expansion — which is estimated to cost approximately $330,000 by the time the project wraps up in September — will include the creation of four vehicle bays and a new hose drying tower which will allow firefighters to hoist hoses vertically to allow them to drain and dry quicker.

“Before we’d have to lay the hoses out on the floor which made things very cramped,” said Belair.

The expansions will also include a new floor drain system which Belair said meets Environmental Protection Agency requirements with an oil separator he calls an “added feature” that plays into the department’s interesting in being environmentally-conscious.

The building will also have new metal roofing, new exterior lighting and sidewalks leading to each of the building’s entrances.

The existing parking lot will also be expanded out to Bloomer Street, providing firefighters with more adequate parking and room for department functions.

“[The expanded parking lot] will be a major benefit because now when we come back we have to back into the station and we tie up traffic,” said Belair. “This way, we’ll be able to use Bloomer Street and not tie up the main street.”

This will be the department’s first major renovation project since a department meeting room and kitchen was built 25 years ago, said Belair. Above all, the expansion project will be at no cost to taxpayers, he emphasized.

“It will be paid in full with money budgeted in our capital project fund,” said Belair. “It’ll be paid for it in its entirety without raising taxes next year whatsoever.”

The work is being performed by general contractor Loran Construction, Hogansburg, and subcontractor JFP Enterprises, Plattsburgh.

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