MILLWOOD, N.Y. -- After more than 90 years of service, the Millwood Fire Company's Station No. 1 is closing, making way for a brand-new building near by.
A farewell ceremony was held on Saturday morning for the building - the event was officially called a decommissioning – where the structure was remembered fondly.
“It has served Millwood well for more than 90 years, but nothing is forever,” Millwood Fire District Commissioner Alan Schapiro said.
The firehouse was built in 1924, the same year that the fire department was founded. The structure was built by volunteers, Schapiro noted.
Neil Gollogly, who has been an active fire department member since the 1950s, gave a de facto eulogy for the firehouse, recalling when it was built and its decades of usage.
“If we use our imagination, we can picture our beloved firehouse when it was built, looking beautiful like a new bride: built with the best lumber, brightly painted, shining windows - every construction detail covered,” Gollogly said. “These people were tradesmen and only the best would do.”
Over the years, Gollogly added, the station hosted events such as fire company inspections, elections and Boy Scout meetings.
Looking forward, however, Gollogly referred to the new firehouse, which is more than 18,000 square feet, as a new bride and with the latest firefighting technology.
“Treat her well,” he concluded. “She will be with us a long time.”
Moments later, the American flag was lowered from the premises for the final time and a procession was made through downtown Millwood and towards the new firehouse. A flag raising was held on the new grounds amid an instrumental rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Firefighters also posed for photos and both buildings.
Hala Makowska, who chairs the district's Board of Fire Commissioners, explained that the new firehouse was needed because the old one cannot adequately store newer firetrucks, which are larger due to requirements to retaining equipment. More space for movement within station bays is needed in order to meet requirements from agencies such as OSHA and the NFPA, she added. Additionally, the old station has had structural challenges; the second floor was previously condemned before repair work was done, Schapiro recalled.
recalled the quarter-century process that culminated in the new building's creation. She noted that talk of replacing the building, which is at 60 Millwood Road, began in 1990 with a report. The Millwood Fire Company then transferred the old station property to the Millwood Fire District for $1, she added, with a promise to build a replacement; the latter entity governs the former.
The quest endured years of delays and controversy, however. A major factor was the search for a site, including a heated moment when the fire district in the early 2000s considered exercising eminent domain to acquire the Millwood Lumber Yard property.
The current site, which is located in a formerly wooded area to the east of the present location, was purchased in 2007, Makowska recalled. Once a specific plan was finalized, voters in 2011 approved a $9.95 million bond vote to finance the project; the total projected cost of the new firehouse is $13.995 million and the work has matched the figure, Makowska added.
Millwood Fire Chief Greg Santone said the move into the new firehouse will be on Friday, Oct. 30, which is the same day that the old station will be sold to a private buyer. Santone anticipates that a formal dedication of the new building will be held next spring.
The buyer of the old firehouse is a company called 60 Millwood Partners, LLC, Schapiro told Daily Voice.