Purchase (NY) Fire Department was operating out of a fire house built in 1937 when the area was mostly rural, populated by farms and large estates. That station had a two-bay addition put on in 1968 with 10-foot-high door openings, and in 1998 the station’s flat roof was removed and a second floor was added. But as fire apparatus got larger, space was at a premium in the two apparatus bays, and the department knew it needed an addition to the station to solve the problems of space.
“In the apparatus bays, we couldn’t get into one of our apparatus on the officer’s side because it was so close to the wall,” says Bob Makowski, Purchase fire district secretary and past chief. “And there was only two inches of clearance between the top of the aerial ladder’s light bar and the door opening. Also, at the time, we found it was necessary to have five firefighters bunking in the station, and we had them sleeping in storage rooms and half of the day room.”
Purchase Fire Department covers 10 square miles with 50 volunteer firefighters from a single fire station, Makowski points out. “The area has grown significantly,” he says. “In our district we have PepsiCo’s world headquarters, MasterCard’s headquarters, and Morgan Stanley’s headquarters, lots of office buildings and apartment complexes, State University of New York at Purchase, Manhattanville College, Purchase College, part of the Westchester County Airport, State Routes 270 and 684, and the Hutchison River Parkway.”
Pete Signorelli, the lead architect for the project for Mitchell Associates Architects, says the previous addition to the Purchase station had structural and stability issues. “An exterior stairwell was settling, and there were cracks in the masonry both inside and outside. We needed to remove the stairwell, then go under the existing foundation, undercut it, and put in a deeper and more substantial foundation. It’s call undercasing.”
Bob Mitchell, principal at Mitchell Associates, says the addition his firm designed and built for Purchase is three levels with a basement storage area. “The expansion has two double-deep, back-in apparatus bays on the ground level with a radio room between the addition and the existing building,” he says. “The elevation of the property didn’t allow us to put in drive-through bays.”
Off the new apparatus bays are a SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) storage room, a decontamination room and decon laundry, a workshop, and a day room, Mitchell notes. Turnout gear is held along an apparatus bay wall in Ready Rack lockers. A second-floor mezzanine has storage and training props, including a bailout window, a manhole for extrication to the floor below, and open space for the department’s forcible entry and other training props.
Signorelli points out that the station’s radio room extends into both the new and old apparatus bays to allow visual contact with each bay. “We also added a weather-proof and sound-proof generator room behind the station that can handle the entire building in case of a power outage,” he says.
The third floor of the addition has five single-person dorm rooms with lockers, two four-person bunk rooms with lockers, and three unisex bathrooms that each contain a shower, toilet, and sink, Makowski says. “The five dorm rooms are for the firefighters who live in the station,” he notes. “The other bunk rooms are set up to be occupied when we have an emergency in the area and need to stand by in the station.”
Makowski adds that the renovated four-bay fire station now houses 2020, 2007, and 2003 Seagrave pumpers, a 2021 Seagrave 100-foot rear-mount aerial ladder, and a 2004 Seagrave rescue truck.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Ariz.-based journalist, the author of three novels and five non-fiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including the position of chief.