New fire department takes shape

JOHNSTOWN – The new Berkshire Volunteer Fire Department station on Steele Avenue Extension is scheduled to open May 1.

Bruce Heberer, chairman of the department’s Board of Fire Commissioners, said the project is half-done. Interior framing began Friday.

The new building, which will replace the current station on Route 29A, has been constructed, and most of the wiring and heating work is completed.

Once the weather improves, paving of the new parking lot and driveway will be done, Heberer said. The project, budgeted for $1.5 million, is meeting the budget, Heberer said.

In November, the department awarded bids for general contractor work to Bast Hatfield for $673,500; site work to Newkirk Excavations for $241,780; electrical work to McBain Electric for $192,908; and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing work to Tri-Valley Plumbing for $222,497.

The new location will include more than 9,800 square feet of space. A total of 3,800 feet has been established for office space, while the remaining 6,000 will be used for the department’s truck bays.

The current station has three 10-foot bay doors, said Berkshire Fire Chief Mike Martin. The new building will have four 12-foot-wide doors.

The bay doors on the current station are too narrow for new trucks. To get a truck that would fit in the current station, the department would need to order modified trucks that cost $10,000 to $15,000 extra, the Fire Department said.

The weather has caused no significant delays to the construction project, Heberer said.

“There’s been a day [missed] here or a day there,” he said.

Firefighters don’t have to be out of their current building until June, and they expect to be out sooner than that.

The new station is on the site of the former Fireside restaurant.

Fire district board Secretary Karl Hansen said the restaurant demolition took two to three weeks longer than expected, but Heberer said the project is still on schedule.

Heberer said the department is packing items from the current station in preparation for the move.

The department sold the current station’s site to CVS Pharmacy, which plans to move from its location in the Tractor Supply plaza on Route 30A. Heberer said CVS will construct a new pharmacy building after tearing down the fire station.

Martin said the new fire station will be a big improvement.

“I think just the larger building will be an improvement [for] access [for] the trucks,” Martin said.

He said firefighters are excited about moving into the new station.

“I think everybody is looking toward moving in,” Martin said.

He said some members will miss the old location.

“It was in a good location, easy access for everybody,” Martin said.

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