Ribbon Cutting at Pelham’s New Fire StationJune 28, 2013
by Gloria Lavoie
June 22, 2013 was a momentous occasion for Pelham as townspeople, Firefighters, State and Town officials and even the Governor Maggie Hassan attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at Pelham’s newest addition to the Village Green area of town.
Chief James Midgley said, “Thank you all for coming out to be with us on this very warm day. It would take me 20 minutes to thank all the people that were involved in this project and made this project come to fruition.” He explained how a committee was formed over 10 years ago to discuss the future needs of the town would be, anticipating that there would be a need to build a fire station. It turns out that the future projections that were made for the department were very accurate. “Under the direction of the Chief at the time, Chief Fisher, who is here today from Florida, the committee did a pretty good job with their projections for the community.”
“In 10 years since we started the process, our department has doubled in size in personnel to meet the growing demand for service in our town. We now have a 24 hour, 365 day a year fire service and advanced life support paramedic service,” he explained.
“This building you see behind me is a direct result of many years of work that was put forth by individuals including the Board of Selectmen, the Budget Committee, Town Administrator and many citizens. What people don’t actually know is that we took a lot of input from citizens that came into our station and took the time to talk with me on different ways to promote the fire department and the needs of the fire department, and getting a fire station, as well as ideas that could be built into the fire station to make it a better community organization and a better functioning building for the Community,” Midgley explained.
Midgyle said, “Town Administrator Tom Gaydos felt that we owed it to the Community to build a very economical building but build a very good building for you. Having talked to different fire chiefs who are going through the process now, the first words out of their mouths are ‘How in the World did you build that building, as beautiful as it is, for that cost?’ So I think we met our mark in what we set out to do.”
Midgley spoke about the tax impact, “We realize that there were sacrifices that were made by people in the Community to accomplish what we have behind us here today and we appreciate that. It didn’t go unrecognized. We overcame many obstacles to get here. In this economy, it was a great challenge. We were constantly looking at the budget and keeping the costs low. I want everybody here to know that we brought this project in under budget. In this economy, that is a very great task to accomplish.”
Chairman of the Board, Ed Gleason, presented the Chief with a plaque. “We dedicate this building in the memory of all who’ve come before us and sacrificed for the betterment of the Community,” said Gleason.
Reverend Ferguson read a blessing, “God, we gather in appreciation this morning as we celebrate the accomplishment of dreams. For we are people of visions and dreams. When we are lead to see the fulfillment of these visions, we are called to give you our thanks. As we gather to celebrate today, we are mindful of our Community, aware of our need for each other and for our common belief in the necessity for service. For dreams accomplished and visions to come, we offer you these prayers today.”
Governor Maggie Hassan said, “I know it has been years in the making and it has taken hard work of so many different people. Your efforts for taking the vision of a new fire station into a reality are a great example that anything is possible when we all work together to achieve it. Public safety is government’s most important responsibility so I am always proud to celebrate public safety infrastructure improvements that help local officials in your efforts to keep the community safe. I applaud the Board of Selectman for recognizing back in 2004 that the old facility could no longer meet the community’s needs, and for bringing together a mix of elected officials, fire department personnel, and Pelham citizens to review and recommend a path forward. When the voters of Pelham overwhelmingly voted for the construction of this facility in 2012, all of the hard work and planning finally paid off, giving way to the groundbreaking last June, almost exactly a year ago.”
“Everyone involved with this project, should be proud for the work you’ve done. Not only because you’ve built a facility to meet current needs, but, as the Chief said, you’ve built one that will accommodate future needs as well,” said Governor Hassan. “I’m told that the station includes features and technology that will make it a 50-plus year facility that allows for technological and reasonable physical expansion. I commend you for accomplishing these goals because if the previous growth is any indication, you will certainly need the ability to expand,” she continued.
With 19 full-time employees, the department certainly has evolved since the first building was built in 1974. In 1974, 154 calls came in to the department for assistance. In 2011, 1,300 calls were received. The new structure boasts six apparatus bays,
Board of Selectman Ed Gleason said, “This station has been a long time coming. The taxpayers can take a great deal of civic pride for what has been accomplished with their tax dollars. We now have a very durable facility that will serve us for many years to come.” He added, “It is a fitting home for our firefighters and medical response personnel who have always a professional ability to serve the citizens of this great town, in their hours of need. In their significant role that they are called to play, day by day, they deserve facilities that are safe, efficient and durable. This facility will adequately satisfy those needs.” He thanked Pelham taxpayers, Eckman construction, Trident representatives and Chief Midgley and Tom Gaydos and the Board of Selectmen for their capable contributions. “It has truly been a team effort,” he added.
Gleason invited the guests to take the time to explore the building. He applauded the building’s design, layout and construction. “Once you do that, I am sure you will reach the conclusion the Board of Selectmen have; this facility is efficient, well thought out and a very prudent expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars.” He turned to the Chief and said, “Chief, you’re the best. You’re on top of everything and took care of every detail. Dave Fisher got the ball rolling and we thank you for doing that. “
Board of Selectmen member Hal Lynde praised the building, “The building is amazing. The way it was put together and its value. This building is R70. It has great energy efficiency.” He was thankful and congratulated his fellow Board members for running a lean budget, and for deciding to pay for the $3.9 million project in one year in conjunction with impact fees, fund balance and taxpayers.
The ceremonial ribbon was cut by Chief Midgley and Governor Hassan and the crowd cheered, marking the official opening of the Pelham Fire Station. Hundreds of guests toured the gleaming facility and enjoyed a complimentary burgers, hot dogs and refreshments, courtesy of Hannaford Supermarket. A giant inflatable mascot aptly named Smokestack Jack roamed through the crowd as they viewed apparatus, viewed the state of the art kitchen with industrial range and double sub zero refrigerators. “We wanted to be able to be here for days and cook our own meals,” explained a firefighter to a guest.
Informative and enthusiastic fire personnel greeted guests in every room of the massive structure. Retired Captain Al Cote said, “This is a long way from the station built in ‘72.”
“This is so nice. They all deserve this,” said Marylyn Colburn.