State’s first 'green' firehouse opens in East Hartford

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Sep. 9, 2011
Sam Cipolla, the town's oldest former firefighter, cuts the ribbon to mark the opening of East Hartford's Fire House #5. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Sam Cipolla, the town's oldest former firefighter, cuts the ribbon to mark the opening of East Hartford's Fire House #5. Photos by Frances Taylor.

Fire House #5, East Hartford's newest firehouse, officially opened its doors Sept. 6 with a ceremony that featured the town's oldest firefighter as a special guest.

The new firehouse, located at 125 Brewer St., is also the state's first LEED-certified firehouse, meaning that it is an energy-efficient and energy-saving building.

The new firehouse replaces the old fire station on Main and Brewer Streets that was built in the 1930s and had become inadequate for the needs of firefighters and emergency medical technicians working there.

Town officials, firefighters and members of the community toured the new facility, which includes a fitness room, a library, a spacious kitchen and dining area, and men’s and women’s locker rooms. The facility also contains specialized areas that will enable fire trucks to be more easily serviced and firefighting equipment more efficiently maintained.

The firehouse has 22 geo-thermal wells under the parking lot, which will provide the facility with heat and hot water, as well as rain-collection barrels and solar panels.

Chief John Oates called the new station “a vast improvement over our facility on Main Street,” and praised the many town officials and private contractors involved in the planning and construction process, which began in 2008. “You can look back with pride on this project,” he said.

Firefighters who will call the new station home were among those who toured the new building for the first time. “I've seen it in stages as it was going up. This is my first time inside now that it’s done,” said Marcus Rice, a firefighter and EMT. “They did a great job. It's a lot better that what we had, that's for sure.”

Frank Schiavone, another firefighter and EMT, said he would miss the character of the old building. “It’s a great facility, really nice. We'll just build new memories here,” he said.

Sam Cipolla, a 93-year-old retired firefighter, was a special guest at the opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony. Cipolla joined the fire department in 1949, and retired in 1982. He was presented with an award by Oates and Mayor Marcia Leclerc. “As the town's oldest fireman, we are delighted that you can be here today to witness the fruition of our newest firehouse,” Leclerc said.

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