NORWALK, Conn. As a backhoe continued its work on Connecticut Avenue Tuesday some of Norwalk's most influential citizens celebrated a milestone on the other end of the prominent expanse of dirt.
"It's a wonderful day for the Norwalk Fire Department and it's a wonderful day for the city of Norwalk," said Fire Commissioner Carol Andreoli at a ground-breaking ceremony on the southern end of the property that for more than 50 years was the site of the Volk Fire Station.
A new three-story fire house is being built in its place. It will house a state-of-the-art emergency operations center funded by a $1 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA. Its 31,000 square feet will also house training facilities for firefighters and office space for administrators. The structure is expected to qualify as a LEED-certified project.
Deputy Chief Edward Prescott said a design team made up of firefighters spent "countless hours" researching and networking to bring back the best ideas for Norwalk.
"A fire station isn't like any other building that a municipality has," he said. "The building must sustain constant use 24 hours a day, seven days a week for up to 50 years or more without a break. A station must be built to provide functionality, durability, safety, a safe work environment for firefighters who spend over a third of their lives living and working in the station. Government, city officials and taxpayers can rest assured that this station is on the right path."
A steady hum from I-95 was audible as officials spoke under a tent. "Some people ask, 'Why do we need a new fire station?' " Mayor Richard Moccia said. "One of the reasons you can hear over here. The noise inside the old station was about as loud as it is out here because of the old building, the old windows. For our firefighters to try and exist in that environment and in a rapidly deteriorating building, we felt as Mayor [Alex] Knopp did, and Common Council previous, that it was time to make sure that we had a first-rate modern fire station that would serve this community for many years."
Two Common Councils worked on the project, which drew bipartisan support from state, federal and local legislators. Congressman Jim Himes said, "It's really a tremendous thing in these polarized times and difficult budget environments."
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