Walk into the bays at the Slingerlands Fire Department’s headquarters on New Scotland Road, and the smell of diesel fumes is powerful.
“Every time we’re out here getting dressed, and firefighters are getting their gear on, they are inhaling diesel exhaust while the trucks are running, because they load in the station,” said Ryan McConky, a commissioner for the Slingerlands Fire District.
It’s one of the many reasons that department leaders have proposed a $1.8 million expansion project. The fire station was opened in 1966 and contains much of its original infrastructure. Stained walls and ceilings from a leaking roof are visible in many spots and tight quarters make for dangerous conditions for the 40 volunteer firefighters that belong to the department.
McConky led a tour of the station during a public meeting held Wednesday Nov. 16. He showed members of the department and the public where exhaust systems would be placed. Right now, makeshift changing stations are situated between the department’s fire trucks. They would be moved into a “ready room,” and exhaust systems would be located between trucks.
“Due to space issues, we have gear lockers between the trucks,” said McConky. “It precludes us from putting in an exhaust system.”
Plans include the addition of two bays, more storage areas for equipment and files, the construction of a radio room in the front of the building, and the addition of a decontamination station, where firefighters can wash off harmful substances from fire scenes or from work on equipment at the station.
The department serves over 1,800 residential and commercial properties, but a little more than ten people showed up for the public meeting, not including members of the department.
Resident Ken Preston, a former firefighter himself, expressed a sentiment of support.
“I’m with you, but also worried about my taxes,” said Preston.