New Fire Station

Birds Eye 03
Press Releases and other DocumentsFacility Design Report
7/19/23: Council Approves Borrowing for Fire Station
2/13/24: Advertisement for Bids
4/4/24: Approval of Bid

New Station FAQ
Why did you choose this location for a fire station??
It’s just off South Church Street, to the west of AbleLight Thrift Shop. The piece of land itself is 7.6 acres near 621 Bernard and 668 Johnson streets.

We’ve been asked, “why not build the new fire station at the former Breslow’s/Johnsonville” location, and that’s a fair question. The primary reason is that the sites combined are not big enough. Our needs require a space nearly three times larger than those properties combined. The second reason is that the highest and best use of the riverfront is not public, untaxed land. We have been intentional about reinvigorating the waterfront with the goal of developments that stimulate the economic environment. Putting a non-taxable property on the river is not supporting that goal. There has been some concern about response times; please check out page 8 of this report, that details the response time study that was completed.

The land the city purchased is 7.61 acres which allows us to build a station and training facility appropriate for today and into the future.

Why do we need a new fire station?
Lots of reasons! The big ones are:
The fire station does not fit the needs of modern-day firefighting - and it was never built to house both Fire and EMS. When the station was built in 1964 the city did not have EMS service. Now we have full time fire and EMS and offer other services like cold/swift water rescue, trench rescue, confined space rescue, hazmat response and much more. Our vehicles are larger, heavier, and we have more of them than we did in 1964. That weight has taken its toll on the apparatus bay floor.

Safety practices regarding gear contamination have come a long way since 1964. We need better-designed decontamination facilities for us and our gear when returning from a fire.
There are no designed dorms for female firefighter/paramedics. We do have women on staff, and they have spaces provided to them for privacy, but trends show more women entering the fire service and we need to be prepared to provide equitable conditions.

What will happen to the old station? Will it sit empty?
Definitely not. There are plans for the Police Department to house their fleet in the old apparatus bay, and good potential for other City departments to move into the other spaces. There is nothing set in stone yet, but an assessment of the space will be done as we come closer to the actual building of the new fire station.

When will the new station be occupied?
We will be able to move to the new station in early 2025.

How did officials determine that we needed an entire new fire station and not a satellite station? How did they determine the location?
An analysis was done by 5 Bugles, a company that specializes in the design and placement of fire stations within a community. They gathered data about our population, call volume, call locations, location and density of different types of buildings, and available land in the area, and made a suggestion about where a new station should be and how it should be built to best serve Watertown. The results of that study can be seen HERE if you're interested.