Stoneham Fire Chief Matthew Grafton and Superintendent David DiBarri are pleased to announce a collaboration between the Stoneham Fire Department and Northeast Metro Tech.
Approximately 30 students from plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and HVAC programs will be working at the 105-year-old Fire Station for the next few months in order to help renovate and update the space. Students will work in groups of five in order to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.
The work will consist of renovating a second floor to accommodate the needs of the department, relocating the kitchen to the second floor and turning the former kitchen space into a gear storage room, and various other small projects, such as replacing the wheelchair ramp at the front of the building.
These projects will help to upgrade the space, as well as increase health and safety conditions at the facility for members of the department. Currently, the kitchen is located right off the apparatus floor and gear is stored nearby as well. Creating this separation of the working and living areas will help to reduce this risk of exposing firefighters to carcinogens left on gear before it is washed and cleaned after being worn and used for a call. The bathroom renovation will help to fix plumbing leaks and repair the dilapidated bathroom to provide an upgraded space for firefighters to use.
Chief Grafton presented the plans to Massachusetts Historic Commission, who approved the plans, to ensure the work maintained the historic nature of the building.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Chief Grafton said. “The students learn from their experience, the fire department has a healthier work environment and tax payers are able to save some a significant amount of money by not having to pay the cost of labor. We greatly appreciate Northeast Metro Tech for helping us and are happy to help them gain this experience. This work wouldn’t be possible without them.”
The group initially began working on the project in early 2020, but had to pause their work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Already, the group, who works over the course of a few hours four days a week, has made progress on the bathroom renovations and the completed the new ramp.
“We are thrilled to be able to partner with Stoneham Fire to help our students gain hands-on experience and show their support for our community partners,” Superintendent DiBarri said. “Partnerships like this help to enrich the lives of our students and I know this is something that they really look forward to each week.”