New firehouse prioritizes firefighter workplace safety; design will complement the neighborhood

BOSTON – Monday, February 6, 2023 – Today Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Burke, Public Facilities Department officials, firefighters, and community members broke ground on the future East Street site of Engine 17 in Dorchester. The new Engine 17 firehouse, located on historic Meeting House Hill, will be more energy efficient and better protect firefighters from workplace health hazards. The existing Engine 17, located next to the new site, originally opened in 1928. The City has allocated about $30 million toward the design and construction of the new fire station and public art to be displayed in the new building.

“This groundbreaking reaffirms our commitment to investing in our City workers and residents by ensuring they have the infrastructure and tools to help their communities,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “The current firehouse opened almost a century ago, and no longer fully serves the needs of firefighters. I look forward to seeing this project through as a safer place to work and a more energy-efficient and welcoming space for the neighborhood.”

The future Engine 17 firehouse will be located at 37 East Street, which is currently a parking lot. The existing firehouse will remain in operation during the course of construction. The new firehouse is expected to open in the spring of 2024.

“I would like to thank Mayor Wu not only for her support of our Fire Department, but also for projects like this,” said Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Burke. “I applaud the attention to constructing state of the art municipal facilities under her leadership and this firehouse will set a national standard for sustainable government buildings. These green buildings will serve the neighborhoods of Boston for many years to come, protecting the health of firefighters as well as the environment. Thank you, Mayor Wu.”

The new firehouse’s design employs the Boston Fire Department’s nationally recognized health and safety standards, which create red, neutral, and green hazard zones to protect firefighters from health hazards.

The new building will run on energy-efficient boilers, and features two apparatus bays facing Winter Street and one chief’s bay on Parish Street. Second-floor spaces include an open-concept kitchen and dayroom, fitness area, lockers, and sleeping and office spaces for the staff. Large windows will introduce daylight into program spaces and create a welcoming entrance to the building. The design uses brick and stone to complement the surrounding area.

“We are proud and excited to break ground on this new firehouse that is designed with the health and safety of our firefighters at the forefront, while also promoting public art and improving energy efficiency,” said Dion Irish, Chief of Operations.

The original Engine 17 / Ladder 7 firehouse was built on the site of two old firehouses that dated back to the annexation of the Town of Dorchester to the City of Boston. Engine 17 responds to incidents primarily in the Dorchester and Roxbury areas, and to parts of South Boston.

“I am so glad to be at this much anticipated groundbreaking,” said City Councilor Frank Baker. “Along with most other firehouses, the men and women who serve our city out of Meetinghouse Hill deserve clean and safe firehouses, as they take calls day and night in one of the busiest houses in our City. I look forward to the completion of this state of the art firehouse in the coming years.”

“First responders keep our communities safe and save lives each and every day. As a City, it is critical that we continue to invest in them — their training, their equipment, and our public safety infrastructure so they can continue this critical work,” said State Representative Chris Worrell. “I am so excited to have this fire station — one of the busiest in Boston — get the investment that matches the caliber of our brave men and women.”

To complement the construction of the new fire station, the City is commissioning an artist to create a long-term public artwork for the entrance tower of the building. The primary theme for this commission is fire fighting and the neighborhood’s relationship with the fire station. The project is currently in the artist selection phase, and it is expected to be installed next year.

This announcement builds off of Mayor Wu’s commitment to invest in City workers and infrastructure to ensure all residents and City workers can take advantage of state of the art facilities. Last month, Mayor Wu opened the new District A-7 police station in East Boston, the first complete new district station in more than a decade. Mayor Wu recently announced $25 million for a new BCYF community center in the North End and announced the first standalone BCYF community center in Dorchester to be built in Grove Hall. Last year, Mayor Wu announced a Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools, a $2 billion plan to overhaul BPS facilities, including new construction and renovation projects, as well as district-wide upgrades.

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