During and after the Great July Flood, while Cabot Firefighters were pumping basements, clearing asphalt, and managing rescue and recovery operations late into the night, the swollen Winooski River was eating its way toward the Fire Station itself, eroding the embankment and destabilizing the land behind it. Reinforcing fill deposited after the Flood of 2011 began to fail, and cracks appeared in the floor and foundation.
An examination of the Fire Station property by Ben De Jong, the Vermont State Geologist, revealed that the land is in “active movement” and significantly unstable. Trees tilt in two directions as the soil shifts, and, after the most recent rains, large sections of fill began to slide into the river. On Friday July 28th inspectors from the Division of Fire Safety “yellow tagged” the Fire Station building, citing “danger of collapse”. This means that entry is allowed only to remove equipment.
The CFD is pursuing several options for relocating vehicles – the rescue vehicle, the tanker, and the engine – and the washing and decontamination equipment that firefighter depend on for their own health and safety. Possible locations for the Cabot Ambulance are also under consideration. Chief Dean Deasy and Ambulance President Jenn Miner remain confident that both services will be able to respond to fire and rescue calls, even in the face of these challenges.
A new home for the CFD and Cabot Ambulance has long been contemplated, and the proposed site for a new Public Safety Building at 2466 Main Street was cleared and made construction-ready earlier this summer. The proposal has yet to be approved by Town Meeting, but it has acquired a new urgency in the past week. Shawn Goodell, of the Division of Fire Safety, assured the Town on the 28th that Cabot is at the top of the Agency’s priority list for aid and support.