DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

August 22, 2013

Londonderry fire station in need of improvement

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — The David A. Hicks Memorial Central Fire Station on Mammoth Road has served the town well since 1978.

Now, officials are hoping it’s time to give the station some much-needed care and upgrades.

Fire officials gave a presentation recently to the town’s Capital Improvements Plan Committee, hoping to put the fire station improvement plan near the top of the list for work to be funded as a capital project.

The CIP committee is an advisory group that hears presentations from departments, including the school district, and makes recommendations based on a rating system to prioritize the jobs and what should make the top of the list.

Projects received a score based on urgency, need, public safety concerns, any tax savings to town, etc., and also are given a fiscal year for planned completion of the project.

Central Fire Station did make a top spot on the list and was among several presentations coming before the committee at a meeting Aug. 12.

The estimated cost for the fire station work is nearly $3 million. The cost would be funded by bonds.

Fire Chief Darren O’Brien said the building needs a lot of work, mostly on the roof, and needs two more apparatus bays and space for firefighters who live and work there.

Nine station vehicles are stored inside and/or outside. Some town trucks are too large to get through the station’s current apparatus bay doors.

Other work making the list are to upgrade restrooms and do other projects to bring the station up to Americans With Disabilities Act codes, including making stairways and doors the correct width.

“We are not very compliant to today’s codes,” O’Brien told CIP officials. “We have no elevator to the second floor.”

Storage is also an issue.

“It’s being able to account for stuff,” O’Brien said. “That’s tough.”

Some apparatus remains stored outside. The station does not have an official area for firefighters to clean off their clothing and equipment after a fire. The roof also is an issue and leaks in several areas.

“We keep it clean, we keep it livable, but we are utilizing every square inch,” O’Brien said. “The roof is an ongoing problem; you patch one hole, then you get another.”

O’Brien, officially named fire chief earlier this month after serving as interim chief since March, said his staff has done a lot of station improvements through the years.

CIP officials agreed the fire station should take a top priority on the list of projects to get done.

“The building could continue to deteriorate,” Town Councilor and CIP Committee Chairman John Farrell said.