November 17, 2012

Coopers Mills' fire department on track to replace century-old station

By Paul Koenig
Staff Writer

COOPERS MILLS -- The volunteer fire department is on its way to a new fire station after more than 10 years of fundraising to replace a century-old station.

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There are plans to replace this old fire station with a new one nearby in Coopers Mills section of Whitefield.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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Engine 5 and Tank 1 share a bay door at the Coopers Mills fire station in Whitefield. Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department Association Chief Tim Yorks said that sometimes they have to shuffle trucks if there is a mutual aid request for a tank truck from another town.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Additional Photos Below

The Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department Association voted on Nov. 5 to hire E.S. Coffin Engineering & Surveying Inc. to provide engineering design for the site of the new fire station, according to Chuck Vaughan, secretary of the fire department association.

The site for the station is adjacent to the current one and will add an entrance from Route 17, Vaughan said.

Longtime Coopers Mills firefighter Norman Best said the current station has been around since the turn of the century, although it has been added to since then. The station is so small that the fire engine and tanker are parked bumper-to-bumper in one of the bays, losing precious time if they only need the blocked-in tanker, he said.

"Basically it's tight quarters, and you find maintaining the building as it gets older and older is more of an expense," said Best, who has been at the department for 35 years. He also said it lacks a toilet, and the meeting room isn't handicapped accessible.

The department, with about 12 volunteer firefighters, is a satellite station for the Whitefield Fire Department, along with Kings Mills Volunteer Fire Department. Best said that all equipment, the building and the land have been paid for by the fire department association without public funding, which they hope continues.

The department's chief, Tim Yorks, said more private fundraising will be needed to pay for the new station, which could cost around $250,000 to $500,000. The fire department has just over $100,000 in the new building fund, according to Yorks.

He said they will have a better idea of when the station will be built in the middle of December after hearing the detailed cost estimate from the construction manager, but he would like to start building in the spring.

The new station is being designed by architect David Landmann of Windsor, who volunteered his work for the project, and will be about twice the size.

"All of us, from the fire department to all the design professionals, are working very hard to reduce costs every place we can and still have a building that will be an asset to the community and last a long time," Landmann said.

E.S. Coffin Engineering & Surveying, Inc.'s work will include planning for the highway entrance, parking, septic design, erosion control and building placement, according to Vaughan.

Landmann unveiled his preliminary design for the roughly 3,200-square-foot station at the fire department's annual fundraising auction in August. Landmann said they could decide to build only part of the station at first depending on the cost and additional fundraising efforts.

Vaughan said the new station will be able to hold all four of the department's in-service vehicles, two large and two small, and possibly the department's 1930s Dodge firetruck used for parades.

Landmann, a member of the association, isn't a firefighter himself, but he said there have been firefighters in his family dating back six generation, including his son at Weeks Mills Fire Department in China.

He said he's been working on the fire station design for the last two years but most intensively in the last year.

Paul Koenig -- 621-5663

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Additional Photos

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Tim Yorks is the Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department Association Chief.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan


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