Renovations for Fire District 1 station expected in mid-2024

Dec 28, 2023

It’s been 46 years since there were any major renovations to Dartmouth Fire District 1’s station on 10 Bridge St. — but the Fire District is inching closer to breaking ground on the station’s $7 million reconstruction project that it says will improve the building’s overall safety and efficiency. Voters unanimously approved funding for the project in November of 2022. 

Fire District 1 held a meeting Dec. 27 at the Bridge Street fire station to hammer out the finer details of the renovation with associates of Brewster Thornton Group Architects, discussing everything from how many windows there should be in the training room to what color the shingled roof should be. 

Christine Shea, an associate of Brewster Thornton Group Architects, said the renovations are expected to begin in mid-2024, but there’s no official start date as of yet. 

The Fire District is exploring ways to maximize the improvements while staying within its $7 million budget, of which $5.5 million is taxpayer funded. The remainder is funded through Fire District 1’s stabilization funds and free cash. As the Fire District fine tunes the project design, it’s also considering cost-saving measures like utilizing the existing basement and foundation.

The administrative side of the building will be demolished and rebuilt while the garage gets some upgrades. The project will involve adding a second story, repaving the parking areas, replacing the garage doors, and installing a ventilation system in the garage to filter out diesel fumes that the fire trucks emit. The garage will also be equipped with specialized washers so that firefighters can more readily cleanse their equipment and protective clothing of toxic substances encountered while putting out structure fires. 

Other improvements include adding bunk spaces for firefighters to sleep overnight and upgrading the training room with new televisions and projectors. 

Deputy Fire Chief Jake Bettencourt said there have been “no significant upgrades” to the station since it was built in 1977. The new design will include opening up the floor plan and building a central hallway to improve the lines of sight and overall flow from one room to the next. 

This combined with installing higher security doors and adding comfortable living quarters and beds for firefighters on standby during snowstorms and hurricanes will make the station a safer, healthier space in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association, Bettencourt said.

The Fire District has been exploring this project for the past 3 years. 

“These things do take time,” he said. “You can’t just flip a switch.”

But appearances are just as important as functionality, Shea said, and it’s important that the outside of the fire station blend with the aesthetics of Padanaram Village. 

“Brewster Thornton has the reputation of being good neighbors on the aesthetic front,” Shea said.  

Although an industrial, ultra modern fire station may look great in New York City, she explained, it wouldn’t fit the traditional, coastal architecture of South Dartmouth. 

The renovations will be completed in phases, allowing Fire District 1 to continue operating out of the Bridge Street station throughout the construction period.