Bridgeport – City firefighters are donating their time and sweat refurbishing a 100-year-old, decommissioned firehouse in the city’s East Side.
“There’s a lot of history here, that’s why we want to keep it,” said Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Porzelt, who is spearheading the effort to restore the old Engine 10 firehouse on Putnam Street.
The building opened 100 years ago this year. At the time, it was state of the art. The house was decommissioned in 2007.
“It actually had heat,” Porzelt explained. Still parked in the main bay is a 1942 fire engine that remained in service as a spare into the 1970s.
The goal is to restore the old house and convert it into a public safety museum, where children and visitors can tour the building, check out the old engine, and learn how to slide down the firemen poles. There are three, all original brass from a century ago, in the bunkroom where eight to 10 firefighters slept. Firefighters also envision office space for the Bridgeport Fallen Firefighters Foundation and a location for fire union meetings.
The restoration is being funded by donations and by firefighters themselves. Firefighters who belong to Bridgeport Firefighters Historical Society have $1 a week deducted from their paychecks and that money is helping pay for the supplies. Firefighters, both current and retired, have cleaned the old walls stained with years of diesel fumes and age, stripped them and painted them the original two-tone green. Original plaster ceilings have been restored. The bunkroom is completely restored with the battleship gray paint stripped from the century-old floor, the wood cleaned, sealed and polyurethaned.
Firefighter Martin Magzag, who was working Friday morning at the old firehouse on his day off, spent three years at the Engine 10 building before it closed. He provided a brief tour.
“This was a good firehouse,” said Magzag. “I worked here the last night when we shut it down.”