The home of the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) will soon be growing.

A groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the construction was held July 10 to start a project to expand the firehouse from 8,000 to 17,000 square feet.

The expansion will provide space for the town's fire-emergency medical operation, including a classroom, a day room, an exercise facility, officers' office space, a dispatch room, equipment storage and room for nine, and eventually three more, vehicles.

In addition, the facility will house offices for the fire marshal, who now works out of town hall, the emergency management director, who currently doesn't not have an office, and the resident trooper, who currently works out of the town garage.

Additionally, the expansion will include a large meeting room with a commercial kitchen.

The underlying purpose of the expansion is to upgrade the facility to meet current code requirements and provide the working space needed by the fire department. In the past, the SVFD had to special-order apparatus to fit into the garage space, originally designed for highway vehicles.

The project has a budget of $4.5 million, which is the amount of the bond authorization approved in June of 2007.

First Selectman Andrea O'Connor has also applied for a $500,000 STEAP grant and a $900,000 ARRA Fire Construction Grant through FEMA that would permit certain equipment upgrades at the facility.

Merit Associates said the project is to be "substantially completed" in 10 months, with work to begin in the coming days. In the meantime, the fire department will operate out of the town garage facility up the road from the firehouse on Route 39 North.

-- Deborah Rose