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Open house at Santa Clara fire station

The Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department will hold an open house at the Santa Clara town hall in Saranac Inn from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday to spread awareness about the firefighting services the substation there provides.

In 2016 Tupper Lake opened the substation — and its fourth company — to provide speedier coverage to the several hundred residents of Santa Clara, 20 to 30 minutes away.

For years Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake shared the duty of covering the Upper Saranac Lake area, but in 2013 the Santa Clara town board approved a five-year contract with the village of Tupper Lake.

The new substation has made a big difference in the department’s ability to fight any structure fire between the Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Paul Smiths fire departments. It’s also allowed the Tupper Lake department to not need to spend personnel, time and money traveling to a false alarm half an hour away.

“It has been helpful,” TLVFD Chief Royce Cole said. “We do have a lot of alarm activation out there, so having to drive a half-million dollar truck out there for nothing is not great.”

Cole said the Santa Clara substation now has eight members and a truck, led by officer Todd Hall. They have not seen a lot of action so far, averaging around 10 calls a year, according to Cole. He and Tupper Lake village Mayor Paul Maroun, also a volunteer firefighter, said the main calls the station responds to are alarm activations and trees in the road, though they also have responded to motor vehicle collisions and water rescues.

Cole said former chief Carl Steffan got the ball rolling on the substation project, and Cole finished it with Maroun and Santa Clara town Supervisor Mickey Webb.

On Saturday kids will be able to see the station’s 500-gallon pumper truck and a truck from the Tupper Lake station. There will be food and drinks, and firefighters will be there to show people how they respond to reports of fires at homes and camps.