The Town Council heard engineering estimates from $25,000 to $53,900 to assess the extent of problems with the floor at Fire Station One on Main Street Monday night. Public Works director Joe Duarte strongly recommended the company with the highest bid, but council members asked Duarte to have further discussion with all three bidders before a vote be taken.
The original 1914 Main Street firehouse was built for hand-drawn and horse-drawn apparatus. That equipment didn’t weigh much so accommodations were necessary as trucks came into use. In 1957, a one-story addition on a cement slab was constructed to accommodate a 25,000-pound ladder truck. The current ladder truck weighs 61,000 pounds and the current engine weighs 38,000 pounds. The floor over the basement was replaced in 1980 but it now leaks, so only the lighter trucks can park on it.
The bids heard by the Town Council, however, are only to diagnose the extent of the problem. Fixing any diagnosed problem would cost some additional unknown sum. That unknown sum could bolster the argument made by Fire Chief Peter Henrikson in 2012 that a new fire station is needed.
A first foray into finding a new place for a station – the southwest corner of Post Road and Cedar Street – was recently abandoned with Indian burial remains were found there. But the U.S. Postal Service's decision to close the Post Office at 5775 Post Road and sell the property has given the fire department a new potential site. The town has notified the U.S.P.S. of its interest in the property but, according to Deputy Fire Chief Russ McGillivray, there's been no response yet.
Council members Monday night voiced some concern that the recommended bid was so much higher than the other two bids. After some discussion, the council directed Duarte to meet with both of the firms that submitted the lower bids to get a better sense of what their bids represented. In addition, the council asked Duarte to reconfirm with SGH their bid represents the most it would cost to do the investigative work.
Duarte is to report back to the Town Council at its meeting Sept. 9.