Hampshire County fire department seeks new public safety complex

WILLIAMSBURG, Mass. (WWLP)– An early morning fire damaged a portion of a long-time Hampshire County business.  22News found out how the same fire department that put that fire out, is reaching out to the community for facility upgrade.

It only took about an hour for firefighters to control the flames Saturday morning at the Lashway Forest Products complex in Williamsburg. But the fire managed to damage one of the town’s iconic, historic buildings, the old Williamsburg Freight Depot.

“It’s always a shame when old historic buildings get knocked down, whether it’s on purpose or by disaster,” Wesley DeSantis, who lives a few yards from the lumber complex, said.

Williamsburg Fire Chief Jason Connell told 22News they relied heavily on four neighboring fire departments to help put the flames out, and that the fire happened on the same day they invited residents to tour their two fire houses and police department.

They are currently looking to voters to approve a $40,000 feasibility study because their aging buildings are in desperate need of an upgrade.

One of the fire department’s current building was build in 1905, and the new addition was added in the early 1960’s, but neither halves can house a full-size, standard fire truck, which the chief says is not allowing them to operate sufficiently.

Kelly Ratcliffe, a former dispatcher from Goshen was visiting the for the fire department’s open house when she told 22News, “We had to drive by a couple of times. I was very disappointed that this is our public safety for this area.”

Bill Sayre, the chair of the Williamsburg Public Safety Complex Committee told 22News the study would narrow down where to put a new public safety complex, how big it will need to be, and how much it will cost.  Sayre also said “the feasibility study is for a Safety Complex that will house both Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Emergency Management Department, and that all three departments are involved in the study and it’s outcome.”

Some residents told 22News they are concerned about any addition expenses to the town as they are in the middle of a $12 million school renovation that already has taxes going up.

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