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Firehouse to add women's bathroom

Published 10:53 am, Sunday, March 2, 2014
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The New Canaan Fire Department soon will have a separate bathroom and shower facility for female firefighters.

The Board of Selectmen approved Tuesday a $5,800 contract with Pat Munger Construction to demolish the upper-level bathroom at the firehouse. The project will turn the bathroom on the second floor into two separate rooms with lavatories and showers -- one for men and one for women.

Fire Chief Jack Hennessey said the department has three women volunteer firefighters on the roster, but it has never had women career firefighters. Career firefighters get paid and generally work full time. New Canaan has a "combination" fire department, comprised of both paid and volunteer firefighters.

In the country, women make up about 4 percent of total career firefighters, according to a 2012 report by the U.S. Department of Labor.

After the configuration, the firehouse will be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Hennessey said. Besides accommodating female volunteer firefighters and potential female career firefighters, the bathrooms now will be handicapped accessible.

On Feb. 11, the selectmen approved a $10,082 contract for architectural services related to the bathroom reconfiguration.

Superintendent of Buildings and Fleet Bill Oestmann said the conversion is part of the facility's ongoing renovations, for which the funds already have been approved. The overall budget for the firehouse renovation project is $1.05 million.

In a different stage of the project, the firehouse also will have a women's lavatory in the basement, Hennessey said.

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson