Tisbury hosts emergency services facility open house

Tisbury selectmen have moved Tuesday's meeting to the Emergency Services Building at 5 pm. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

With shiny fire engines in the bays and ambulances at the ready, Tisbury’s long-awaited and anticipated new emergency services facility (ESF) building will make its public debut with a ribbon cutting and open house that begins at 1 pm, Sunday, February 3.

The building is dedicated to the town’s emergency responders. A brass plaque affixed to the building includes the inscription, “This building is dedicated to those who serve and volunteer in emergency services for the residents of and visitors to the town of Tisbury.”

For the first time, the town’s fire, ambulance/emergency medical services, and emergency management departments are all under one roof on West Spring Street, across from the Tisbury School. The Tisbury Ambulance Service moved into the ESF from its former location in the police department building off Water Street in mid-August 2012. The fire department began its administration operations at the new facility a few weeks later. With a push from the threat of hurricane Sandy, the fire department completed its move from the old station on Beach Road into the ESF a few days before the storm arrived on October 29.

The spacious 18,000-square-foot municipal building is designed for maximum efficiency, with many areas that offer multiple uses. An administrative wing includes offices for the three departments, as well as bunk rooms for emergency responders. There is also a meeting room equipped with high-power radios and a television monitor for dual use as an emergency operations center.

A cavernous apparatus bay, 36 feet high at its peak, is large enough to accommodate the town’s emergency vehicle fleet.

In addition to serving the needs of emergency responders, the ESF offers many valuable assets for the community. 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.

A community/training room with tables and seating for 40 available downstairs offers an alternative location for selectmen and town committee meetings, as well as a future polling place. A treatment room is available in the emergency medical services offices to provide first aid to patients who walk in seeking treatment of minor injuries.

The state-of-the-art facility also has multiple features and spaces that provide opportunities for use by fire fighters for training. 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.

Tisbury voters overwhelmingly approved a Proposition 2.5 override question, 566 to 398, to authorize the town to borrow funds to construct a new $6.8 million ESF in a special town election held along with the special state primary on December 8, 2009.

Seaver Construction was awarded a $5.52 million contract to build the ESF in February 2010. The town celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in April 2010. However, construction issues that included a botched concrete floor and weatherproofing deficiencies delayed the project’s completion for more than a year. The town is still in negotiations with Seaver to close out the project.