Just a few years ago, the walls of the old Mill Hill Fire Station on Broadway seemingly made more sounds than the firefighters inside.
Those noises were not just the creaking and cracking of a building built in 1887, but also the pitter-patter of mice running in the walls.
That was just one of many reasons for firefighters to breath a sigh of relief when the station finished renovations earlier this year.
The station is currently getting the finishing touches on its $2 million renovation project, with some sharp new doors installed just last week.
A final walk-thru is imminent.
“There’s not any real changes so much in the engine area, but upstairs the living quarters have gone through a major upgrade,” said Deputy Chief John Quatieri. “That’s where most of the work has been done and it’s really a major change.”
One of the key changes was to put an addition on the second floor which houses a new day room/living room, a dining room table and give the fire crews space for a full kitchen and office.
Another major change is with the bathrooms.
To the extent there was a bathroom and shower, the space has been tripled and there is also a new, separate bathroom so that female firefighters can be stationed at Mill Hill.
“We went from having one shower for six to eight guys and two toilets to having three shower stalls and a brand new bathroom,” said Quatieri.
The bunkhouses are now a lot more spacious and firefighters are no longer crammed into small spaces or bunks. There is also a new washing machine and dryer, which wasn’t available in the old station.
Firefighter Union President Brian Capistran said his members are very happy with the renovations.
“I have no major complaints,” he said. “It was long overdue and it took a little longer than we expected. Overall, if you look at what we had and what we have now, it’s a night and day difference. The only thing we’ll complain about is the parking situation. We’ve asked that they set aside parking spaces on the street for fire personnel and I think that will get worked out. That’s the only downfall though.”
Capistran said his own father was once stationed at Mill Hill during his 32-year career with Chelsea Fire.
“He couldn’t believe it was the same place,” he said.
A ribbon cutting on the rehabilitated station is expected imminently.