BETHANY - Last Thursday the official ribbon cutting for the new firehouse took place. The event, attended by dignitaries as well as representatives of the firemen, was filled with happiness.

Fire Chief Robert McSherry summed up the feelings of his men and women. "This is a great day for the department. It's been a lot of work and it should serve the community for many years," McSherry said.

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First Selectwoman Derrylyn Gorski thanked the building committee and Volunteer Fire Department for working so hard to bring the project in on time and under budget.

"I thank the community for its overwhelming support of the project, and thank Carlin Construction, (New London) who have gone above and beyond to insure the success of the project," Gorski said.

The ground breaking was held in April 2006 and the project came in under budget by $55,000, Gorski said.

It took two referenda one in 2004 and another in 2005, years of planning, discussions (some heated), Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance approvals to give a final green light to build the new central firehouse on the former airport property. It replaces the aging and cramped Center Fire Station on Rt. 63

The delay between the two referenda grew out of the original bids, which turned out to be higher than available funding. Considerable cuts and trimming of a number of building features followed. Despite increased building costs in the interim, the new firehouse will now cost less than the original bids, all of which were over $4 million, according to fire officials.

The new 16,950 square-ft. firehouse is located at the north end of the town-owned airport property, near the town garage.

The new station, about 5,000 square feet bigger, is fully OSHA compliant, equipped with decontamination and gear-washing areas plus showers, a bunkroom and larger space for training, office and department meetings as well as more space for fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. The entire building is equipped with carbon monoxide and smoke detectors

Each bay has electrical plugs, air hose to keep air brake system charged up, also exhaust system with a sensor signal to start

The department has 11 trucks including two ambulances, one rescue a HAZ MAT trailer and two reserve antique vehicles There are over 75 volunteer firemen and women.

The Firehouse Building Committee members were Warren Buchter, the former fire chief; Richard Ives, Nikki Phillibert, John Ford and Raymond Lizotte.