Cambridge Fire Department
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are you expanding the station?
Our daily operational needs have outgrown our existing space. The transition from volunteer to paid EMS services and the increase in both the amount of equipment, personnel, and administrative functions for both the fire and EMS have caused or existing space to become cramped and dangerous for our emergency responders.
The new station alleviates these problems in several key areas. First, it provides in house living quarters for both paid staff and volunteers. EMS staff currently sleep in a rented apartment across US Highway 12 from the station and there are no on site options for fire personnel.
Second, it greatly expands the apparatus bay area. The current bays are not long enough to meet the requirements of modern fire apparatus and they are completely full. Some emergency equipment is stored in a detached building and some is stored on the opposite side of the building from tow apparatus due to size constraints. This means we have to drive apparatus around the building in an emergency just to hook up to trailered equipment while responders attempt to navigate the same areas in their personal vehicles while responding to an emergency. Much of our fire, EMS, and service equipment and is tucked in and amongst the apparatus as we are forced to use all available space to house our loose equipment and supplies.
Third, the administrative, meeting, and training areas are large enough to accommodate modern emergency services and the administrative and educational demands they require. Our current space makes it virtually impossible to hold joint meetings between the fire and EMS organizations. This is a huge barrier to the collaborative nature of our organizations and the familiarity and joint input that successful emergency operations require of the groups.
Fourth, it provides a workout area that is large enough to hold small group sessions and accommodate a variety of training and equipment. Our current facility is a set of weights, an elliptical machine, a pull-up stand, a plywood box, and the stairs in the hose tower. It is squeezed into a utility room with no room for safe movement.
Fifth, it provides a safe, attractive, and modern environment for responders. The importance of this cannot be overstressed as a tool in recruitment and retention of both volunteer and career personnel.
Why build a station now? What is the rush?
The need for more room in the station has been an ongoing problem for at least the last 20 years. The first solution was to build a detached garage to house our antique engine and loose equipment. The building was paid for by the EMS and Fire Commission and the labor was provided by CVFD firefighters. The building was full shortly after it was completed. Eventually the antique engine was moved off site for storage as space was needed for a boat to perform water rescues and our apparatus bays were already full. A few donations of rescue equipment have been passed on over the years as there simply wasn’t room to store it. In 2015 the need to recruit EMTs from outside our area led to the rental of off-site housing for the EMS. That is when the search for a solution to the facility shortcomings began in earnest and the commission decided to move forward on a design study. After assessing needs and looking at the options available, it was clear that expansion and/or new construction were next. All this leads to today. Every year things got worse and they will continue to do so until something is done.
Why are there so many offices and workstations?
There are 2 members of the EMS Command Staff and an administrative assistant that are career positions. Every shift has a Crew Chief. On the fire side there are 6 Command Staff members and three ranked Fire Officers. The CVFD also has a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and Board of Directors. In addition to these there are several standing committees with various duties. All these people are competing for a work space, many at the same time. It is essential that the Command Staff have private offices in which to perform the many duties that legally require confidentiality. In addition, virtually every job that EMS and Fire do generates some sort of report. Some are brief, some are lengthy, but all require a comfortable and appropriate workspace in which to perform them.
What is going on with all those bathrooms?
There are two types of bathrooms in the design. The first are the unisex bathrooms that will be open and available to all staff and the public. The need for these restrooms is obvious. The decision to go to unisex bathrooms as opposed to male and female specific is to make them both adaptable to societal norms and the make-up of any given group using the station at any one time.
The second type of bathroom is the individual bathrooms attached to each sleeping room. Our research has shown that this is the configuration many departments are using in their new construction. The make-up of a modern station’s staff is very broad in both age and gender. With this range come differing attitudes about privacy, safety, and emotional security. The simple design addition of individual bathrooms solves many potential problems before they can even occur. It is also very attractive to and, frankly, expected by many potential recruits. Add to that the possibility of needing to quickly use the restroom in the middle of the night before responding to a call. Could you imagine the problems if there were a line?
Why don’t you do the bare minimum and expand the rest later as you need it?
While this design clearly isn’t the bare minimum, it was well thought out. Nothing was thrown in. Every feature was carefully considered. The idea was to build a station that allowed us to meet the future needs of the agencies as best we could predict them today. Because of the nature of government financing, this project is going to require the difficult task of getting five different communities to approve five different referendums to even begin. That is a huge amount of time and effort to ask emergency responders to take on in addition to the duties they already perform. Simply put, it is not practical to go to this well every five years and expect to function effectively. If you were to ask any member of our agencies what do they need today, they will for the most part tell you what has been drawn.
One could argue that perhaps we don’t need every bedroom right now. That may be true today and not tomorrow. The problem is that it may take another 5 years to get the financing and logistics together to add more bedrooms. The same is true for apparatus space. All this remodeling or expansion will certainly cost much more than doing it now and all at once. The past has shown that the make-up and needs of our agencies can change drastically in a short time. Fiscal responsibility and preparedness dictate we build as designed.
Is it really necessary to have an exercise facility?
Absolutely. Physical fitness is an absolute necessity in emergency services. The lifestyle has been described as long periods of monotony interrupted by moments of sheer terror. We go from zero to 100 mph in seconds. This is incredibly hard both physically and emotionally. In fact, sudden cardiac death is the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in the fire service. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to combat this.
We drag a lot of weight around with us in a big hurry. We have to lift patients in very awkward positions. Everything we do in an emergency requires physical fitness in one way or another. It is required to do our job and, therefore, the ability to maintain it is required as well.
Are there any green initiatives and, if so, are they fiscally responsible?
To be determined.