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New Keene fire station ready for construction at different location

Drawings for the planned firehouse for the Keene Volunteer Fire Department.

Drawings for the planned firehouse for the Keene Volunteer Fire Department.

— Keene's Fire Station, destroyed on August 28, 2011 by Tropical Storm Irene, will be rebuilt on higher ground. Construction is set to begin in August 2012. Private tax-deductible gifts will be necessary to raise adequate funding for the project.

The New Fire Department

Since the storm, Keene Fire Department has housed its equipment, four fire trucks and one ambulance, at temporary sites in an attempt to maintain the same level of emergency readiness. The new site of the all-volunteer department is directly across from the Stewart's Shop on Route 73 where Mountain Manor Lodge now stands. Sean Foran, project manager of Division of Fire Protection Services for the Syracuse construction management company Hueber Breuer, has been project consultant since October for a range of services, from site selection and financing to construction management.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, new emergency facilities are classified as Essential Facilities, which must be constructed to be the last structures standing after a disaster. This requirement adds to construction costs.

The Keene Fire Department volunteers provide ambulance, fire and rescue services. Keene requires two fire houses who work together for rapid response to emergencies. The Town of Keene, which covers 156 square miles, is divided into two fire districts. Keene Fire Department (District #1) covers the entire Town of Keene and responds to calls in Upper Jay, Jay, AuSable Forks, Lake Placid, Wilmington, Elizabethtown, and New Russia. The second district is Keene Valley (District #2), five miles south, who also responds to the neighboring districts. While most of the 450 households lie within five miles of the center of town, there are settlements at the extreme ends of the town's boundaries, including those high on the hillsides. Further, Keene and Keene Valley are cut off from each other in emergency weather situations, especially high water. Emergency response time would be inadequate should there be a single fire station serving the entire area.

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