Guest ColumnsThe Examiner

Vote Yes on Tuesday for a Modern, Safe Chappaqua Firehouse

We are part of The Trust Project

By Lori Morton, Bonnie Golub, Hank Lubin, Lousie Lubin and Jonathan Russell

We are writing as Chappaqua residents and members of the Community Liaison Committee, invited by the New Castle fire commissioners 15 months ago to learn about the planned expansion to the Chappaqua Firehouse, understand the need and rationale and to assist the fire district in identifying concerns that the community may have.

We understand a few realities that underpin the current proposal:

  1. Fires result in the robust production of airborne carcinogens. Particles that coat turnout gear are hazardous to firefighters and their families. Firefighters have a higher risk of cancer than the general population. Firefighters must have access to suitable facilities to clean their turnout gear, and showering facilities to decontaminate themselves before returning home to their families.
  2. OSHA standards protect workers (and volunteer firefighters) from injury and disease as a product of a job and a workplace. The current Chappaqua firehouse does not comply with OSHA standards. This exposes both our firefighters to significant unnecessary health risks and taxpayers to potential liability.
  3. There are firehouse requirements that enable volunteer, hybrid and fully paid departments. Examples include: fitness facilities to support each firefighter’s ability to meet the demands of the role, as well as bunk rooms that allow separate facilities for men and women. The current proposal will build the “shell” for future outfitting of bunk rooms, enabling flexibility for possible future hybrid or paid fire response.
  4. The current firehouse is not ADA compliant. This may seem an odd requirement, but although active firefighting requires certain physical abilities, there are many roles within a fire company that can and should be inclusive.
  5. Fire trucks are substantially bigger now than they were in the past. The current bays are undersized for modern trucks, creating risk of damage to equipment and risk to personnel. The expansion provides bays appropriately sized and allow for safer “drive-through” garaging.
  6. By adding on to the firehouse rather than tearing down and rebuilding, the Chappaqua Fire Department can maintain operations uninterrupted, as well as retain space for current and future equipment and operations needs. They feel this option provides the most value possible for the cost of the bond and enables the most flexibility for the future.
  7. Costs for construction only increase. As a result of the six-and-a-half-year delay since the last vote, the community has lost several millions in value for the same amount of proposed construction bond. The fire district will sell the Senter Street property to help complete interior renovations.

After dedicating over a year to this proposal that has been pending for our community for many years, we are fully supportive of the bond to expand the Chappaqua firehouse and encourage New Castle Fire District residents to vote YES in support of the bond. Further delays cost the community money and time and risk our firefighters’ safety. We implore the community to vote YES on Tuesday, Apr. 25.

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