Gary Roth, chief of the Killington Volunteer Fire Department
By Polly Lynn
KILLINGTON — The Killington Volunteer Fire Department has invited community members to tour their facilities on Killington Road every Tuesday in October. With one more public opportunity, Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 6 p.m., they hope anyone who has not yet had the opportunity to visit will do so. Firefighters especially encourage those that may be skeptical of their requests for improved facilities to come by and see it for themselves.
“We aren’t talking about wants, we’re taking about needs,” said Gary Roth, chief of the Killington Fire Department.
Roth believes that a new facility is the most prudent option for the town and its taxpayers. “There simply isn’t a way to renovate the existing structure and meet the departments needs, we simply don’t have the space on this property. As it is we utilize a lot of land in the back that does not actually belong to us… Steve Durkee has been a very generous and gracious neighbor.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Roth toured five Killington residents around the facilities upstairs and down, describing the varying uses of each truck, bay and meeting room. It was immediately clear to the residents — most of whom own modest homes or condos and are concerned about taxes increasing to pay for a new facility — that the bays and staging areas for the volunteer firefighting crew were not sufficient.
“There is no space in here,” observed local pastor Beverly Anderson on the tour.
Upstairs the fire department is out of code as it does not have two egresses out of the building; the only entrance/exit is a steep narrow staircase up from the middle of the building.
The fire department located at 1973 Killington Road, was originally constructed in 1974. In 1984, the first renovation to the Middle Bays was constructed. In 1998, the second renovation was built, which added an additional apparatus bay to the structure.
For the past eight years, the department has been receiving letters from the state alerting them that they are out of compliance, Roth said. He is not sure how long they will stay at bay without the town coming up with a plan of action to make the department compliant. “Their goal is to improve safety not shut us down,” he said.
In 2013, a consulting team from Dore & Whittier Architects visited the facility and conducted a site and building assessment to provide the town with valuable information for future development. It looked at many possible solutions that could meet the stated needs of the department and safety requirements from the state.
The consultants recommended constructing a new public safety facility located at an alternate site, which could include future build out opportunities for a police station and possibly town hall, in future years. This solution would meet the current and future programming needs of the departments, provide a long term design for public safety, allow for future growth of public safety, provides better and safer access for emergency apparatus, provides excellent response times for the town of Killington, allow the facility to fully function and provide little interruption in providing emergency services, the consultants summarized.
The Fire Department Facilities Review Committee, made up of members: Stephen Finneron, Otto Iannantuoni, Vito Rasenas, Andrew Salamon and Andrea Weymouth, came to a similar conclusion earlier this year. “The current site is inadequate to meet the current needs and future needs of the Killington Fire Station and renovating the existing structure is not cost effective. Our (the committee’s) recommendation is to build a new structure on an alternate site,” the committee said in a statement.
The chief also pointed out that currently, when the departments Tower Truck pulls out of the bay, it must cross over both lanes of Killington Road with its bucket swinging over the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street.
“It’s amazing how many drivers will not stop and let us out when they hear our sirens,” Roth said. “It can be dangerous.”
Additionally, the proposed covered bridge presented at the Killington Pico Area Association over the walking bridge across from the station will not be possible so long as the fire station remains in its current location, the tower truck would not be able to get out of the garage, Roth explained.
“We know that the voters of Killington would understand the circumstances better if they just came by and saw what we are working with here at this location. That’s why we are offering these tours and encouraging all to come by. Our needs aren’t extravagant; but they are needs, not wants,” he repeated in summary, for emphasis.