Tisbury emergency services facility looks up to the job

Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling in his new office. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

This week The Times took a tour of Tisbury’s new emergency services facility (ESF) with Fire Chief John Schilling, town administrator John Bugbee, and building committee chairman Joe Tierney.

The men said the spacious 18,000-square-foot building on West Spring Street is designed for maximum efficiency, with many areas that offer multiple uses.

A vestibule inside the building’s entrance, between two sets of electronically controlled double doors, doubles as a “safe haven.” It is equipped with a phone and a locking device to offer a protected area for someone in need of help, for example, a victim of domestic abuse or violence.

The administrative wing at right includes offices for the fire department, emergency medical services (EMS), and the emergency management department. A meeting room equipped with high-power radios and a television monitor will also serve as an emergency operations center.

In addition to bunk rooms for emergency responders, there is an EMS dayroom and a treatment room to provide first aid to patients with minor injuries. A community/training room with tables and seating for 40 is located downstairs, near the exit to the parking lot in back. A cavernous apparatus bay, 36 feet high at its peak, is large enough to accommodate the town’s emergency vehicle fleet.

Since fire fighters spend about 80 percent of their time training, Mr. Tierney said, the ESF has multiple features and spaces that provide opportunities for it.

For example, the three-story stairwell at the rear entrance of the building doubles as a “training tower.” Its walls are lined with fiberglass and are moisture resistant. The roof has a vent so the entire stairwell can be filled with smoke for training. Other features include a dummy standpipe system for fire fighters to practice connecting hoses. Windows and doors with heavy-duty frames can be used for practice by fire fighters going in and out, without damage from ladders.

The ESF’s completion by general contractor Seaver Corporation was one than one year behind schedule. The town remains in negotiation with Seaver regarding several unresolved issues and punch list items before the project can be closed. However, Mr. Bugbee said it is still within its $6.8 million construction budget.

The ESF building committee met on August 23 with Chris Cooney, president of C&C Construction, Christopher Lynch, president of Lawrence Lynch, and William Scarpati, a pavement specialist from Fay, Spofford and Thorndike hired by the town as a consultant, to resolve pavement quality issues.

Chief Schilling said Mr. Lynch and Mr. Cooney were committed to a resolution and offered two options for mitigation. The ESF committee will vote and recommend one to the selectmen, probably at their September 4 meeting.

The ambulance department moved into the ESF in mid-August, when Verizon installed and switched over phone service. The fire department began its administration operations at the new facility at the end of last week. Chief Schilling said once the pavement mitigation is completed, the fire department would complete its move and schedule an open house for the public within a month.