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Year In Review: Newtown Welcomes New Ambulance Corps Headquarters



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Newtown welcomed a new ambulance facility to Fairfield Hills in 2014. The building, with its classic design, matches the 1930s-era architecture at the campus, and sits close to duplexes that once served the former state hospital.

After a groundbreaking in 2013, the early months of 2014 saw its new construction steadily materialize into a six-bay garage and new working space for the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps. And by the close of 2014, the new building was in service for all Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps activity.

The build was steady and incremental.

Despite 18 degree temperatures in late January, carpenters with Nosal Builders were busy at work on the roof. Clerk of the Works Brian Feeney said the progress was “going really well.” By then, the roughly $4.5 million, privately funded project was on schedule, he said.

The 14,500-square-foot garage was designed to accommodate the increased integration with other Newtown-based health and wellness organizations, with a second floor devoted to education. The building also includes multiple crew-member bunk rooms, office space for the executive board and the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Association Inc, three cavernous garage bays, each able to accommodate two vehicles, along with technologically advanced electronic infrastructure and a state-of-the-art security system.

It also provides added space for equipment storage and training for emergency medical technician classes, which are imperative for the continuity of an all-volunteer corps.

By late February, Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps member Stuart Rieve and Mr Feeney watched as large triangular-framed wood assemblies rose into position and the building’s upper portions took shape.

With a grand opening celebration scheduled for October, the pace of work picked up. A brick façade was going up, the six-bay garage slab was in, and interior drywall gave the structure shape.

The new building was designed to serve a corps that would meet community needs well into the new century. Coincidentally, the entire corps’ former facility at 77 Main Street could fit inside the new headquarters’ garage bays, Mr Rieve noted during a May walk-through. Local EMTs on duty for overnight shifts would have private bunk rooms, restrooms and shower facilities available to them, along with many comforts that did not exist in the former headquarters.

“No more sleeping on the couch,” he said.

By late summer, the garage was nearly finished. A new flagpole was up, the driveway was in, new pavers were on order, and both interior and exterior work were nearly complete. Mr Feeney had said the construction schedule ran through September 5.

“That is the last day, in theory,” he said. With the way work was going then, he said, “I think we’ll make it.”

As it turned out, construction was completed close to schedule.

Association Trustee and Treasurer Bruce Herring in late September began promoting plans for a mid-October grand opening. While operations had shifted to the new structure in the days prior to planned festivities, the public, emergency responders from across the state, and local officials were welcomed with a dedication program, refreshments and tours of the facility over two days, October 18 and 19.

By early November the garage was nearly finished and in service.
Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps Chief Michael Collins, left, and longtime Ambulance Corps advisor and Trustee Robert Grossman, MD, prepared to cut the ribbon, officially opening the new ambulance headquarters at 6 Washington Square on October 18.
By May, much progress was visible at the new ambulance facility. Site work and construction were working closer to completion and a grand opening was planned for mid-October.
In January 2014, just the skeleton of a structure had emerged at the site for the new Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps headquarters at Fairfield Hills. The coming months brought steady progress to a new facility that was up and operating by October.
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