Volunteers repair garage bay floor at Williamsburg fire station

  • Fire Chief Jason Connell admires the newly repaired section of floor at the North Main Street Fire Station in Williamsburg. Connell is standing next to the department’s Engine II fire truck. Fran Ryan

  • Buliding Supervisor Jim Locke looks on as former Fire Chief Don Lawton removes a large chunk of cement from the garage bay floor of the North Main Street Fire Station. Fran Ryan

For the Gazette
Saturday, November 26, 2016

Before a recent volunteer effort to repair a severely cracked and crumbling garage bay floor at the North Main Street Fire Station in Williamsburg, Fire Chief Jason Connell said that parking an engine in the bay was a precarious endeavor.

“Backing the truck in, you could get quite a tilt,” Connell said.

That tilt was caused by a failing cement floor that had cracked and sunk up to 7 inches in certain areas.

Now the bay that houses the town’s $465,000 Engine II fire truck purchased in 2015 sports a smooth new reinforced cement floor, thanks to the volunteer efforts of several members of the Williamsburg Firefighters Association.

“I’m very happy with the way it came out. Everybody did a great job,” Connell said.

Volunteers dug into the project in early November, cutting and ripping up sections of concrete, preparing the area and pouring and leveling the new floor.

Building supervisor Jim Locke, who was on site during the project, said that less than $1,000 from the town’s building repair account was spent on materials.

“I can’t imagine what that would have cost the town, if these people hadn’t volunteered their time and labor,” Select Board member Denise Banister said.

According to Connell, the garage bay was added to the original building in 1960 when fire engines were much smaller and lighter. As it is, Engine II can just squeeze into the bay with less than a 2-inch clearance at the top, and no room to spare from front to back.

With the weight of the trucks having doubled in the last 20 years alone, the floor, which has also been compromised by poor drainage, could not withstand the load of modern equipment.

“Over time I would say that the floor has sunk about 7 inches,” Connell said. “Just since I took over as chief over the last four years the floor has gone down significantly.”

With talk of a public safety building being considered for the town at some point, Connell said that he did not want to invest a lot of money in the old station.

The department housed Engine II in the Highway Garage while the repairs were being done. Connell said that he is happy to have the truck back where it belongs.

“As chief, I was a little nervous not having it available right here,” he said. “We had to have keys to the Highway Garage, but luckily we didn’t need to use the truck at all during the repairs.

Connell also said that the association might address the drainage issue in the spring.

Banister had high praise for the volunteers who worked on the project.

“The Williamsburg Firefighters Association saw a need, and as they always do, they worked together to fix it,” Banister said. “They are a very dedicated group. They didn’t just wait for somebody else to take care of it, they came together and they got it done.”

Clinton Fiske Awards

The Plainfield Volunteer Firefighters Association recently added four people to the 2016 Clinton W. Fiske Award Honor Roll.

The honorees are:

Robbie Shearer, a 20-year member of the Plainfield Fire Department as a firefighter, 16 years as an EMT, and a 20-year member of the firefighters association, past president and vice president.

Andy Stevens, a 21-year member of the fire department as a firefighter and 21-year member of the association, 20 years as treasurer.

Mert Taylor Jr., a 28-year member of the fire department as a firefighter and officer, currently serving as a captain and 26-year member of the association, past president and vice president.

Theresa Thatcher, grant writer for the fire department with her husband, Chief Dennis Thatcher. She is responsible for successfully writing multiple grants in the amount over $700,000 since 2002 that have been awarded to the fire department and the town of Plainfield.

The award was established in 1994, when longtime Plainfield resident Clinton Fiske made a donation to the association in support of the town’s volunteer fire department. The award honors the many people who help support the department.

Wreath-making workshop

The Worthington Gardeners Club will host its annual wreath-making workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Worthington Town Hall.

Participants can learn how to make fresh, double-sided wreaths with all supplies provided. Attendees are welcome to bring ribbons, greenery and anything else they would like to add and are asked to bring their own pruners and scissors. The cost is $15 per wreath. Refreshments will be provided. Reservations are necessary by calling Elodi McBride at 238-4466, or accepting the invitation on the Worthington Gardeners Facebook page.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at Fryan.gazete@gmail.com.