Whether a new building or just a renovation is on the horizon, the fire house on Main Street in East Setauket will see at least some changes in the not-so-distant future. For the first time Tuesday night, a group of community members and fire department officials congregated at the Setauket Fire District Headquarters to discuss the future of the 76-year-old fire house.
Fire officials say while the building is structurally sound, it does not meet the current needs of the firefighters. Some of the problems include an inadequate amount of space, causing firefighters to squeeze through tight areas around equipment; a need for a classroom for on-site training; and electrical and plumbing problems. Previous proposals in 2005 and 2008 to make changes to the fire house were overwhelmingly defeated by the community.
“We need to educate people about what we need,” Second Lieutenant Scott Gressin said at the two-hour meeting. The local community needs to understand why changes to the Main Street fire house need to be made, he said.
The night was spent explaining the changes that need to be made to the few community members in attendance and allowing them to toss around ideas for the future of the Main Street fire facility.
One resident suggested using the land next to the Setauket Post Office on Route 25A for a new facility, an idea that commissioner Greg Perricone said is highly unlikely to be considered.
Nothing was firmly decided upon by the end of the meeting other than a general consensus of wanting to renovate, not restructure. However, one thing is certain: if veterans of the Setauket fire family have their way, the original structure definitely isn’t going anywhere.
“That fire house has history,” Bob McCambridge, a Setauket firefighter for 59 years, shouted to the 13 people in the room. “If you go after a new fire house publicly, I’m going to see that this is fought down.”
Two other “old-timers,” as they were nicknamed by several community members in attendance, felt the same way about preserving the history of the fire house. They would much rather see renovations made to the existing building.
Perricone, who led the discussion, felt that Tuesday’s meeting was a good first step in getting the community to understand what the fire department needs in order to better prepare its members, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“I wanted to get input from the community from the start of this process,” Perricone said. “Something that previous boards of commissioners failed to do in the past.”
While the cost of the project cannot even be speculated until plans are in place, Perricone says the fire district has close to $2 million for any modifications. However, the cost of the final plan is likely to be much higher and supported by taxpayers, a reason for the community to voice its opinions at these meetings. Perricone recently issued at a meeting of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 10, at 7 p.m. at the department headquarters building at 26 Hulse Road. Future meetings are set for the second Tuesday of every month, same place and time.
The Setauket Fire District, which funds the Setauket Fire Department, covers about 28 square miles and serves Setauket, East Setauket, Old Field, sections of Stony Brook University and its hospital, and parts of Stony Brook, Lake Grove, Centereach, Port Jefferson, and Port Jefferson Station.