Another Opinion, Editorial

Cabot Fire Department Enters Its Temporary Home

CABOT — By the time you read this, Cabot Fire Department (CFD) should just be settling into the new, temporary building next to the recreation field on South Walden Road.

After nearly nine months without a centralized space to store equipment and train our members, it’s safe to say our crew of more than 30 volunteers couldn’t be more excited.

At town meeting, and thereafter, community members have posed a number of great questions about how the temporary building came to be and what is next with the permanent public safety building. We heard you when you asked for more information, and we hope the information below offers a great place to learn more about the next era of CFD.

The new building is a federally-owned, temporary building that will house the town’s firefighting apparatus, equipment, and training spaces until the permanent public safety building can be built. It need not be a permanent use next to the recreation field unless the town decides to keep the building when it is no longer needed as a temporary home for CFD.

The old fire station can not be used because after the July floods, the bank behind the station became unstable and the building was stressed (internal beams were noticeably askew.) the Vermont Department of Public Safety (DPS) first yellow-tagged the building (restricting use) during an inspection of all damage within the Town of Cabot.

Equipment was permitted to be removed at that time, but the building was later red-tagged by the state (denying all entry/use) following a study by the State Geologist, DPS, and a team from UVM.

FEMA will pay the majority (90%) of the cost of the new public safety building. It is expected that state contributions will assist in offsetting the remaining 10%.

The Town of Cabot is incurring some costs for the planning – namely in the form of interest on the post-flood line of credit secured by the town until reimbursement by FEMA. It is important to note that those costs are modest in comparison to what was being studied by a joint fire department and Cabot Ambulance building committee established by the select board before the July floods that would have fallen 100% on the taxpayers.

The goal is for the new public safety building to be completed before October 2026. The process of constructing a temporary building was expedited to 115 days to immediately address the need for a fire station for the Town of Cabot. The speed of construction and temporary nature allowed for state and federal officials to temporarily waive regulatory requirements knowing that a properly constructed public safety building was in the works: for example, to have a sprinkler system installed, or to have a dedicated decontamination area.

The site at the recreation field limited some of these options and a proper permanent building will take between 18 to 24 months to construct due to the major infrastructure required within.

Current occupancy plans for the public safety building are to include 30-plus members of the Cabot Fire Department and three large trucks, the FAST Squad and their supplies for service, decontamination equipment for service calls within a specialized bay as well as spaces for the town constable, forest fire warden and training space.

The planned public safety building will be bigger than the old fire station because the old station was not large enough to meet the needs and safety requirements of current fire department best practices and state requirements.

The new building is intended to serve multiple generations of Cabot residents, comply with all relevant state and federal rules and regulations, as well as the standards of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

When the permanent building is finished, FEMA will offer the temporary building back to the town (at a greatly reduced rate or fully depreciated rate) for purchase. If the town does not purchase the building, FEMA will remove the temporary building.

As our time without a station concludes, the fire department extends its thanks to the road crew for working with us to store two of our three apparatus in the town garage. This has been a hardship on their operations, but has ensured that our equipment and readiness have not suffered. We also thank the department’s members and community members who opened their yards and garages to us in the aftermath of the flooding and Conner Contracting for the wonderful dedication and professional crew as well as for placing us at the top of their job schedule to get us under a roof. It has been a long road to recovery.

As we settle into the temporary building we are looking forward to what is next and will share more about our future plans and goals for how to best serve the Cabot community and our mutual aid partners.

Dean Deasy is chief of the Cabot Fire Department. This article first appeared in the April 2024 edition of the Cabot Chronicle and has been edited for style and brevity.

Dean Deasy

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