YORKTOWN, N.Y. – About six miles separate the Yorktown firehouse on Commerce Street from the new station on Kitchawan Road. In an emergency situation, that can make a world of difference.
That was the motivation for the Yorktown Heights Fire District Board of Commissioners more than two decades ago when it set out to build a firehouse to service the southern section of Yorktown, south of the Croton Reservoir.
Despite purchasing the land and explaining its desire to improve response time, fire district voters, led by a contingent of neighbors to the proposed firehouse, continually rejected bond referendums over the years. The Board of Commissioners, in 1996, created a construction reserve fund of taxpayer money, which was added to each year during the budgeting process. In 2000, that fund was renamed specifically for the third station, said Jean Klaus, secretary/treasurer of the Yorktown Heights Fire District. Most years, the district budgeted between $70,000 and $90,000. In 2017, with the finish line in sight, the district budgeted $265,000, reaching the maximum $2 million allowed in the fund.
“It was a long process to get the money,” said Fire Commissioner Martin McGannon.
The original brick and mortar design was swapped for a less-expensive pre-engineered steel building, though McGannon said he is more concerned with safety than aesthetics.
“We’re not here to build Taj Mahals,” McGannon said.
The modest firehouse, designed by architect David Tetro, contains a two-engine service bay and a room with recliners, a television and a kitchen. On the knoll facing Route 134, there is a tree sapling that grew from a seedling of the Survivor Tree, a Callery pear tree that survived the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
The project was supported by two $250,000 grants obtained by state Sen. Terrence Murphy. The grants were used to purchase an emergency generator and a sprinkler system.
The firehouse, now fully operational, was completed last month after about 17 months of construction. The cost of construction, not including the generator or sprinklers, was $1,842,322.39, Klaus said.
The project came in under budget, McGannon said, allowing the department to install a 30,000-gallon water storage tank, which is fed by roof drainage.
“If there’s a fire in the neighborhood, it’s here for us to get water, plus whatever the trucks already have on it,” McGannon said.
Though hopefully infrequently used, the station, McGannon said, will provide “a quicker response to the areas down here. It’s allowing the fire district to provide a better service to the residents of the Kitchawan area.” Because they now live closer to a firehouse, McGannon said, homeowners should eventually see a decrease in their insurance premiums.
The Yorktown Heights Fire District now operates out of three buildings: Locksley Road, Commerce Street and Kitchawan Road. It owns the Locksley and Kitchawan buildings, but the one on Commerce Street is owned by Yorktown Heights Engine Company No. 1.
McGannon said the fire district is not done expanding. The Board of Commissioners’ next goal is to construct a firehouse near Hunterbrook Road.