The City is getting ready to re-open the historic Hancock Fire Station this Saturday, Dec. 8, but with a $3.5 million facelift to tidy up the old fire house.
“This is a great example of the City’s capital improvement plan at work for us in the fire service,” said Chief Tony Carli this week while going over the finishing touches at the Station. “We haven’t had a new fire station or major renovation for many, many years. We did the Ferry Street station in 1999, but that was to this extent. We have, basically, a brand new building in an older, historic building. It’s very exciting.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he, too, is proud of the investment in restoring the historic firehouse.
“Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day, and I am proud of our $3.5 million investment in this building and infrastructure,” he said. “These funds have been used to not only restore this historic firehouse, but also to include new technology to protect firefighters from exposure to any contaminates that may be on that apparatus floor. These modern upgrades will help our members stay safe and enhance our firefighting capabilities throughout the city.”
The project began one year ago when the City decided to renovate the station, mostly to help with firefighter safety and health – a move that is becoming more common in all fire departments, but particularly appropriate in Everett where a firefighter was lost to occupational cancer this summer.
The project cost $3.5 million and actually came in under budget and on time, Carli said. The work has been done by P&S Construction of North Chelmsford.
But more than anything, it’s going to promote firefighter safety.
The renovation is fully sprinklered, has the full fire alarm system and has 100 percent of the asbestos removed. Firefighters will have a special place for their gear to be washed, and will also have a laundry area for their clothing as well – a very important measure to try to prevent respiratory ailments.
“The biggest thing here is the whole apparatus floor is blocked from the residential area,” said Carli. “That is a huge piece for firefighter safety and now the firefighters will be protected in the upstairs from things like fumes and other kinds of problems.”
The renovation has also kept a close eye on the historic nature of the building. In a very recent historical survey of the City’s historic buildings, the Hancock Fire Station did register as a historic building. Known as the Chemical Engine House due to the fact that it housed the City’s first chemical fire engine, it was built in 1899 and designed by William Hart Taylor. Taylor was an immigrant from Prince Edward Island and, in Everett, designed the old Horace Mann School and the Woodlawn Cemetery gate. In Chelsea, he designed many of the historic buildings in its downtown after the 1908 fire.
City officials said they would be re-installing the ornamental weather vane on the building for Saturday’s big open house event.
Carli said they have also kept historic fire service items too, such as a large lifesaving net that people used to jump into from the tops of buildings.
“We’re keeping the life net and will hang it up in the station, and we also kept the 1930s wainscoting in the living quarters too,” said Carli. “That net used to be in service in Everett. It is original.”
While construction has been going on, the City had re-purposed a part of the old Everett High School to house a temporary station – a feat accomplished by the talented Public Facilities Division. While it has been an adequate temporary home, Carli said firefighters belong in a firehouse.
“The firefighters of Engine 2 are ready to get back here,” he said. “I am very proud of their persistence and their patience in this. The City did a great job of constructing the temporary fire house, but they want to be back here. The firehouse is as integral as the fire trucks for us. They miss being here.”
The Open House will take place on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the new station.
Fire Chief Tony Carli shows off the new Hancock Street Fire House to excited firefighters from other stations in the City. (L-R) Nick Cornelio, Chief Carli, Seth McCullough, Jack Gardner, and Jim Collins.