No one forgets the flash and fury of a fire, its fragrance not being top of mind. I remember when the Steamship Authority dock burned down in 1965 and after a prompt, I remember the acrid smell of burning creosote. I also remember watching the Norton House fire in 2001 with high, mile per hour winds fueling it and the heartbreaking panic of wondering if the homes of the Historic District would be saved. Thanks to incessant rain and the heroism of the Oak Bluffs and other towns’ volunteer fire departments they were.

After leaving the scene, I recall smelling the fire all the way over to the fire station. Attending the town hall building committee open house at the new fire and safety building last week, we were treated to a tour of the facility by Chief John Rose. What. An. Amazing. Building!

When firefighters rush in and out of burning structures their lives are endangered then and afterwards when they return to the station covered with arsenic and other toxins, the byproduct of fires, like the creosote at the old dock. Our new fire station has an area for firefighters to decontaminate themselves and their uniforms. EMT’s use it for washing blood off after accidents.

Built to last 50 to 60 years, the station features five bunk rooms, a laundry and showers for the crew and EMT personnel who return to base after assisting patients with Norovirus or other contagious ailments. Daily, patients stop at the building to have their blood and sugar tested at doctors’ recommendations. Personal lockers may be a small comfort but are in high demand in a unisex environment.

The building has a full electronic educational facility for training (for up to 60) and was constructed for the future by building wide communications, ambulance records storage, computer and electric backup. Every article on the town’s ambulances is stored at the station in multiples—and they are stored in a separate bay limited to 66 degrees in negative pressure to limit contamination and dust.

I learned that fully equipped volunteers perform their responsibilities carrying and wearing 76 pounds of equipment. Thanks to the well-planned design by Chief Rose, the new Fire and Safety building can back up town hall in an emergency. Not that our existing hand me down town hall could be helpful in an emergency.

Over its useful life, the new fire center’s initial cost of about $8 million dollars will be amortized at about $150,000 a year, a minor amount for our safety and wellbeing. This April, I hope we’ll vote in favor of a new town hall—equipped for the future of a town that has weathered 110 years of a rich and vibrant history since our secession—when Edgartown made the rules for us.

Oak Bluffs Library program coordinator Nate Luce plans a return of last summer’s African American Literature and Culture Festival for late August featuring an art exhibit of paintings by Q. T. (Cutie) Bowles, a contemporary of Lois Mailou Jones. To lend financial support to the Library Friends of Oak Bluffs go to where selecting them from the drop-down menu gifts them 0.5 per cent of your purchase — at no added cost to you. At 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays the library has Stuffed Animal Storytime and Book Babies Storytime is on Thursdays at 11 a.m. Toddler Time is at 10:30 a.m. on Fridays and Lego Club is on Fridays at 3 p.m.

MV Community Services Family Center offers a session for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren with the Island Wide Youth Collaborative this Saturday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. to share information on trends and issues on the subject. Coffee is included.

For coffee and breakfast, Linda Jean’s opens next Friday.

Victims of domestic violence will find the Oak Bluffs Fire and Safety Building a safe place. Enter on Fire House Lane and hit the red emergency button to be safely locked in and immediately in touch with a full time person to help. You will be comforted and well protected, a useful service for Connect to End Violence, the organization at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services helping families.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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