Fire trucks return with station floors repaired
Echo Hose Hook & Ladder’s floor replacement is complete, and for the first time in about a year, all apparatus are back under one roof.
The floor replacement work, performed by Bridgeport-based Merritt Construction, began in November and was completed last month, at a cost of $195,000. Because the floor on which the fire trucks were sitting was sagging, Echo Hose Hook & Ladder Capt. Mike Plavcan said trucks were in three separate locations, beginning April 10, 2018, until the work was completed some 12 months later.
“We spent over a year dealing with this issue, and it was a major inconvenience for the membership,” said Plavcan, “but we pushed on. The members were resilient about it. We kept getting calls, and we kept getting the trucks out and responding.”
Plavcan said the depression in the floor — caused by decades of water damage and deterioration — had been an issue for years, but the membership chose to move on replacement early in 2018. Two trucks were moved to the repair shop across from the bus company site, one remained at Echo Hose Hook & Ladder and a fourth was moved to Station 4 until the work could be completed.
“(The construction company) repaired the structural integrity of the floor, put in new drains in, and epoxied the majority of the floor,” said Plavcan. “The new floor was reinforced more than needed to help support the weight of these trucks. This building was built in 1964, and it was not built to handle 70,000-pound trucks, more like 30,000 to 40,000-pound trucks.”
“The guys had known something was going on (with the floor) by way it looked,” added Plavcan. “I think the work being done puts them at ease."
Along with this work, Echo Hose Hook & Ladder — along with each of the other city fire houses — has had a vehicle exhaust removal system installed. Shelton Fire Chief Francis T. Jones III said the total cost for installation of the ventilation units at all the fire houses was $168,875, but thanks to a FEMA grant — for $163,000, with a required 10 percent city match of $16,300 dollars — the city’s cost was $22,175.
Jones said the systems were installed by Aire-Deb Corp. and manufactured is Magnegrip.
“These vehicle exhaust systems will help reduce our firefighters to exposure to carcinogens contained in diesel exhaust,” said Jones. “This is part of our overall effort to improve firefighter health and safety by reducing or eliminating exposures to toxic conditions contained with our fire stations, and our firefighter personal protective equipment.”
"This is huge for the guys in helping to prevent cancer,” added Plavcan.
These latest building improvements at Echo Hose Hook & Ladder are only the beginning of what is a constant effort by company members to update the structure. Most recently, members repainted almost the entire interior as well as refurbished the bunk room with new bunks and lockers; the locker area near the trucks; and created a new gym in what was the old basement classroom space, which sits below where the floor that has since been repaired.
And Plavcan said the work was completed with an eye toward the company’s past, with framed photos and news articles from fires, such the BFGoodrich blaze, as well as photos of members, past and present, adoring the walls of throughout the facility.
“There is a lot of history with this fire company, and we want to instill that with the young guys,” said Plavcan, a 14-year veteran of Echo Hose Hook & Ladder. “We know the city can only do so much. They have a budget, so we take it upon ourselves to do some things. The city gave us the materials, like paint, and we do the work. We have a real sense of pride about these improvements. We made this happen.”
Echo Hose Hook & Ladder presently has 60 members, 45 of whom are considered active, that responded to 917 calls last year — a significant jump from the 764 the previous year. There is also a Ladies Auxiliary that assists with fundraising as well as providing water and food to firefighters working on scene.
Plavcan said the company is always seeking new volunteers.
“It is important to have volunteers. Without volunteers, no one is going to calls,” said Plavcan, adding that jobs range from full firefighting duties to those who just aid at the scene to auxiliary posts.
“We pay for all the training and gear. We just need your time.”