, Derry, New Hampshire

October 11, 2012

Fire department looks for new Smokey

By James Niedzinski
Derry News

---- — LONDONDERRY —Anyone driving by the Central Fire Station on Mammoth Road has probably noticed the large sign featuring Smokey the Bear giving the fire danger level for each day.

But fire officials want to replace the wooden signs with a new LED sign to increase its visibility, volunteer firefighter Vincent Curro said. The sign would also give the time and temperature as well a the fire danger level.

Curro and Fire Chief Kevin MacCaffrie appeared before the Town Council recently seeking approval to apply for a $5,000 FEMA grant for the new sign. The request was OK’d, with the proviso that the Fire Department would pick up any cost overrun.

So far, the Fire Department has received conceptual designs from Jutras Signs and Flags of Bedford, SignArt Inc. of Malden, Mass., and Barlo Signs of Hudson.

Some town councilors had qualms about the new sign because town regulations do not allow LED signs

“I’m not sure if I want to support this, but I could be talked into it,” council Vice Chairman Tom Dolan said.

While Dolan said town officials did not have to follow their own regulation, he said his main concern is to preserve the historical character of Londonderry, especially near the town commons.

“Following our own rules just sets a good example,” Councilor James Butler said.

Councilor Joseph Green said he understands the concerns about preserving the look and feel of the town but said safety is a top priority.

Green said previous requests to allow LED signs have been business-related, while this is a town safety matter.

“If there is any one exception to this ordinance, I can see this being it,” he said.

The Fire Department will go before the Planning Board later his year with its sign proposal.

Meanwhile, another sign ordinance issue is being raised by Kathy Wagner, who wants the town to allow sandwich-board signs for businesses.

“I wanted to get A-frame signs approved for businesses,” Wagner said. “The ordinance needs review. A lot of businesses are lacking signs, and their business is hurting.”

Wagner will meet with the Planning Board again next month. In addition, public hearings will be scheduled about the sign ordinance in the coming weeks.

“Our last ordinance update to this was in 2003,” council Chairman John Farrell said. “I think it’s time we take another look at this.”