Did you notice the Branford skyline has begun to change just a little bit? Branford Fire Chief Jack Ahern will tell you that the changing vista is more than welcomed as it signifies a huge milestone in the construction progress of Branford’s new firehouse. Clad in his hard hat and walking the grounds of the job site, Ahern said of the building progress and the start of the steel framework, “We’re doing very well.”
On Wednesday at 7 a.m. the first truckload of steel was delivered to the department and by 11 a.m., nine 1,000-pound columns were erected. A towering crane looms over the job site waiting to drop the crossbeams and to continue to erect the two-story, 32,000-square-foot firehouse.
The steel will be trucked in loads of about 35,000 pounds daily for about the next six weeks, said Turner Construction Project Manager David Christoforo. All told, he added, the project will use about 150 tons of steel.
Erecting the skeleton of the building, said Ahern, is a huge marker for building progress, showing the project is right on schedule. The building began in late March, delayed by winter weather conditions, and and since then, it’s been onward and forward. The plan, said Ahern, is for the building to be weather-tight by December and completely finished by May 2012. Apart from withstanding a bit of razzing from the department guys, Christoforo said he’s pleased with the job project and the momentum so far.
This week was also a milestone for area neighbors along Clancy Road next to the firehouse who were treated to the erection of a tall, white fence that will act as a sound barrier. Ahern said the neighbors seemed to be happy with the fence.
Though the electric and plumbing and most of the concrete work is finished (the second floor still needs to be poured), the project did hit a bump when it was realized that the fill had to be removed before the first-floor pour could begin. Ahern explained that the soil at the job site was unsuitable for building. About $150,000 will be spent to remove the soil and replace the fill. This expense was not planned for, explained Ahern, and the money for the project will come from building contingency. There is just over six percent of the total $12.5-million-budget in contingency for such projects. At the present Ahern said he and Town Engineer Janice Plaziak are seeing how things progress before they commit to taking another $150,000 out of contingency to add the solar panels back to the apparatus roof of the firehouse. Once the unknowns are out of the way, Ahern said he and Plaziak can consider adding more “green” initiatives back into the project so it can be eligible for Silver LEED certification.
Dubbed the “Taj Ma Hern” by a fellow firefighter, the new department will feature many things the current one does not including proper drainage systems for the apparatus room and a training tower where firefighters can practice. There will also be a community room available for public use in the new facility.
Take Ahern’s tour via video to see the building progress so far and stay abreast of future work by visiting the department’s live stream web camera, which has all eyes on the project 24-7.