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Space to Work, Train, and Be Ready for Westford Fire

November 30, 2018

The training room in the new Westford Fire Department headquarters, which seats 49 people. SUN photos/Julia Malakie Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

WESTFORD -- Perhaps the most defining feature of the brand-new fire station on Boston Road is the space.

Sure, there are a handful of noteworthy new amenities, such as a large training room that can also double as meeting location for a range of community groups. But in every nook and cranny, there is simply more room for the department’s operations than there was in the outdated headquarters on Main Street.

The new building has a garage with five double bays -- essentially space for 10 vehicles -- compared to the old building’s three standard versions. Designated storage rooms comfortably hold equipment, medical gear, cleaning supplies and more. Space for the department’s leadership and administration is triple what it used to be.

“It’s kind of overwhelming to see the improvements from where we came from,” Chief Joe Targ said during a recent tour of the new facility. “The other station was very cramped. The offices you worked in, the captain’s office -- if you got up too fast, you could hit your head.”

The department officially moved its operations over to the new central fire station, located at 65 Boston Road on previously undeveloped land, on Nov. 1. A handful of final steps still need to be completed, though. On Tuesday, a crew worked to pave a section of the parking lot, and electricians roamed the building finishing odd jobs.

Targ said he believes the station should be “100 percent” complete by the end of the month, but in the meantime, the department is able to operate at full strength.

A 2015 Town Meeting appropriated $12.7 million toward the project for both design and construction costs. Officials said at the time that fixing code violations alone at the old station would have cost several million dollars.

And now, after years of planning and the firing of the first architecture firm, the new headquarters is here.

Features are tucked into every corner. An upstairs fitness room includes standard treadmills and also a “Jacob’s Ladder” device to help firefighters train for using ladders. The garage is equipped with a more advanced process to remove diesel exhaust and an automated system to prevent the ramp in front of the doors from icing over in the winter. There are dorm rooms and a manhole to practice extractions and a training room that fills a need in town.

“We don’t just put out fires and go on ambulance calls,” said Deputy Chief Dan Britko. “There are so many other situations that we could encounter that we need to be prepared for. Now we have the room and space to be able to do that.”

Such modern options are a new look. The former station near Town Hall was built in 1974, back when Westford only had an on-call department. Targ and Britko both joined in the ’80s and have spent their careers working with the limited space.

“Both the chief and I worked out of the other station for 31 years,” Britko said. “We’re like, ‘How did we do it?’ I have no idea how we did it.”

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisLisinski.

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