Hampton officials celebrate new beach fire station

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By Nick B. Reid

Hampton Union, December 13, 2013

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Beach fire station ribbon cutting ceremony
Cutting the ribbon at the new firehouse are, from left, Stephen LaBranche,
Robert Ladd, Maureen Buckley and Chuck Rage of the Hampton Beach Village
District, Fire Chief Chris Silver, Selectmen Chairman Dick Nichols, Selectman
Mary-Louise Woolsey, Selectman Michael Plouffe and Town Manager Fred Welch.
[Ioanna Raptis photo]


HAMPTON — Town, Fire Department and Village District officials did a different sort of ribbon cutting Thursday, fire station style.

With the Hampton Beach Village District on the left, the selectmen and town manager on the right and Fire Chief Chris Silver in the middle, they ditched the jumbo scissors and ribbon for actual Fire Department equipment: the Jaws of Life did the cutting, and a fire hose served as the ribbon.

Before you start cringing at your wasted tax dollars — they didn't actually cut the fire hose. They merely uncoupled the hose at a hinge. But it was a novel take on a cliche concept nonetheless.

Silver said the new fire station, which had an opening ceremony Thursday on the one-year anniversary of its groundbreaking, was something that had been talked about and designed since the 1970s. Former firefighters, including Chief Skip Sullivan and Deputy Chief Tony Chouinard, as well as several residents, were on hand to see the long-talked-about idea become a reality.

"I'm very happy with the way the buildings have turned out," Silver said, referring also to the uptown fire station, which will have a similar ceremony next week.

Silver noted that the address 119 Brown Ave., happened to be available for the new building, which he felt was fitting, since it's 9-1-1 backwards.

Saying the new station was "a long time coming," Chouinard remarked, "I'm glad to see the town has a building it can be proud of, and the people of the precinct can be proud of it, too."

Steven LaBranche, treasurer of the Hampton Beach Village District, said that group's new meeting room upstairs was beautiful. "We absolutely love it," he said. It's still the only municipal meeting place in town where emergency calls interrupt by blasting over a loud speaker, but LaBranche said it's OK. "We actually like listening to the calls," he said.

Among the new features in the station are an old-fashioned brass fire pole from the second floor, which Silver said hasn't been in the beach station for 30 years; new dorms for the firefighters that allow each person his own room; a tall, glass tower that gives the station a New England-style lighthouse feel, as well as keeping the sort of tower where fire hoses used to hang to dry out; and a lounge room with a flat-screen TV and four lounge chairs. "The fact is, we live here," Silver said. "We're here all 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Silver said he was partly sad to leave the old building behind, since, he said, it was the oldest continuously occupied town building, but the firefighters appreciate the new amenities.

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