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Committee OK'd To Explore Firehouse Expansion

Mayor and Council approve the formation of an advisory committee to include members of the public.

During the work session of Monday's Mayor and Council meeting, the governing body agreed to the formation of an advisory committee to explore the expansion of both of the borough's firehouses. According to Angelo DeCarlo, past fire chief out of Fire Company No. 2, the issue of expanding Company No. 2's firehouse has been on the table since 2002.

In June, representatives from , along with Rob Conley of Robbie Conley Architect, LLC, met with the Mayor and Council to discuss the structural state of their firehouse and to present the governing body with options for bringing the firehouse into compliance with the codes of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

During that meeting, past and current chiefs said that Company 2 has two immediate needs. One is to be able to fit a new, bigger fire truck into the engine room within the next two years, and the second is to replace to code spaces within the firehouse that have to be renovated and/or improved.  

During that meeting, DeCarlo said that the fire department is approaching this expansion "conscious that cost is a main concern."

According to DeCarlo, within the next two years Company 2 will have to replace their current tower ladder truck that is over 20 years old. Not only is it outdated, but it is no longer in compliance with federal standards. New firetrucks have to meet certain compliance standards set by the NFPA and those firetrucks are now much larger and will not currently fit into the engine room of Company 2. 

Gone are the days when firefighters jump onto the back of a moving firetruck to get to the fire. NFPA requires that firefighters ride seated inside a cab and be seatbelted, a requirement, that in itself, extends the length of the firetruck. 

Three years ago, Conley had put together a proposal for Company 2 that contained a number of options, one of which was a total knockdown and rebuild of a two story structure for approximately $2.2 million, or $145/sq. ft. The option of renovating the building worked out to approximately $90/sq. ft. 

But then the economy went south and the discussion was back-burnered. However, 2012 brings closer the imminent need for purchasing a new truck, and bringing the building to code while providing much needed space. Which is why Company 2 invited the Mayor and Council to visit their firehouse in June and engage them in discussion regarding the best, most cost-effective, plan of action.

At the time of the June meeting, Councilman Dominic Colucci said that given the current state of the construction economy, it is likely that the estimated cost of both projects would be lower in today's market. 

In addition to Company 2's request for expansion,  has also requested funding for a construction project in their firehouse. Among other things, their engine room lacks space for the firefighters to safely access and put on their gear when called out to a fire. 

During Monday's Mayor and Council meeting, the governing body agreed that the proposed advisory committee will consist of two members of the council, two members of the fire department (one from each company), and two members of the public. It has yet to be determined who will serve on this committee, but DeCarlo is putting together a mission statement that will be published on the borough's website to notice any members of the public who are interested in serving.

DeCarlo wants the findings of the committee to demonstrate to the Mayor and Council, as well as to the public, that the fire department and the community need this expansion in order to carry the fire department forward into the next 75 years of service. 

 

Have a question or a news tip? Email the editor Ann Piccirillo at annpiccirillo@yahoo.com. Or, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your email inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

TommyIce August 23, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Anyone want to bet that this "advisory committee" suggests that the town purchase a larger piece of land, consolidate the two firehouses into one larger municipal fire complex? Hmmmm. Now where would a good location for such a complex be? Oooo, Ooooo, I know. The council can purchased Inserra's dilapidated existing ShopRite location--it will be available after they vote to allow Heikemien to pillage the north end of town. That way they can raise our taxes, collect the new ratables from 221 housing units and build their "municipal complex *** dream." Now what are the qualifications for the two members of the public to be on the committee? Will you have to be a friend or relative of the fire companies' or M&C's? Will there be a common sense test that will be administered?
John August 23, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I was at that meeting and council man Colucci tried to recommend someone for that committtee w/o any public imput. Does this mean that all residents need to tare down their house and rebuild for it to be in code?
Darlene August 23, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Feels like just another step in the grand charade, especially since the mayor already tipped her hand on this. I wonder though - how long has the Fire Dept been out of compliance with codes and are there associated fines/penalties?
Denise August 23, 2012 at 04:24 PM
And.....Are the Fire Depts throwing down fires with other outdated equipment?
AML August 23, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I also was at the meeting and was taken aback & quite dismayed by Councilman Colucci's suggestion of someone he personally knew who could fit the bill for the public composition of this new advisory committee regarding the firehouse expansion. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe he stated that this person (whom he did not name) either has worked, or, is familiar with firehouses. Either way, this sends a bad message to NM residents as this position should be an unbiased position in which the applicant applies, not a position which has been appointed by a council member, or, a member of any governing body/committee. This was conveyed to Mr. Colucci, and it was decided that the residents of NM who are interested should apply. That was a fair determination. I would suggest advertising for the public position in the Twin-Boro News as many individuals do not go on-line to the boro's website.
james August 23, 2012 at 07:10 PM
It is getting better and better. Another good reason to leave this town and an even better reason to tell any young adults and families not to move here. I can see it all falling into place. The new development, new firehouse complex, a field of dreams and on and on until no one can afford to live in NM.
Donna Colucci August 23, 2012 at 08:37 PM
If I may, I would like to go on record and say that if anyone has questions/concerns about our town for Councilman Dominic Colucci, as he is a busy business owner, thankfully, or any council member or the mayor for that matter, please contact them at the boro's website. You are certainly welcome to talk to him/them and ask any questions you may have. If you see Councilman Colucci at the many local establishments he and our family frequents, he is always happy to answer questions and concerns and talk to our neighbors in New Milford. Thank you, he looks forward to it.
TommyIce August 23, 2012 at 08:39 PM
The National Fire Protection Association is just that--an association. It is not a governing body, it does not (nor can it) levy fines or penalties. It acts as a professional association similar to the CPA for accountants. It does not issue licenses or permits. It's sole purpose is to educate fire personnel and set benchmarks for best practices. Visit their website by clicking the link in the article. The fire departments have been able to fight fires with the current equipment. In fact, leave the tri-state area and you'll see towns using fire trucks that have been in service for 40 years. They repair and maintain instead of playing keep up with their comrades in surrounding towns. Just because Dumont got a new truck, doesn't mean we need one.
james August 23, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I would hope they would be accessible since they are elected by the people of New Milford. The Mayor and Council can also go on Patch and reply to any inquiries. There are some people who use this forum for information also.
John August 23, 2012 at 11:10 PM
I did email Colucci about sump pumps and never got a response do I need to make it public record
Donna Colucci August 24, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Dear John: After speaking with Councilman Colucci, he doesn't recall receiving an email that he has not responded to. Please state your name and a way to contact you and he will surely get back to you.
Angelo DeCarlo August 24, 2012 at 02:26 PM
The idea of forming a sub-committee was born after the June meeting at the firehouse. Councilman Collucci, the Fire Chief (James Tufaro) and I dicussed what we though to be the best course of action at the time,, which was to form a committee of qualified, interested parties - which incorporated a member (or members) of the public. Councilman Collucci did not, in any way intend to exclude any interested person. His raising the point to the full M&C at Monday's meeting was to afford his Council colleagues the opportunity to comment and make suggestions on a way forward. The function of our governing body and the reason for open public meetings of such bodies as stated in the Open Public Meetings Act is to 'ensure the right of the public to have advance notice of and to attend the meetings of public bodies at which any business affecting their interests is discussed or acted upon'. The formation of this sub-committee, and the unprecedented inclusion of two members of the public goes above and beyond what typically occurs and is not required by law as stated by our Borough Attorney at Monday's meeting. I applaud the Mayor & Council in this case, and particularly Councilman Collucci for his leadership in forming this important group for the purposes of improving, modernizing and bringing into compliance - two critical buildings - which are an integral part of New Milford's infrastructure and public safety. The Scope-of-Work is being drafted and will be posted soon.
Angelo DeCarlo August 24, 2012 at 02:48 PM
With respect to the buildings (and apparatus) being in compliance - as with all guidelines and regulations - changes occur with the passage of time and in response to incidents where design, procedures and laws that were in effect at the time of construction or manufacture become outdated or ineffective. This is in-fact the case with respect to the buildings and some apparatus (Towere ladder 31) in New Milford. New regulations and laws have since been implemented which renders both no longer totally effective in ensuring the safety of firefighters. The NFPA is only one of several agencies that guide or govern public buildings and apparatus. Others include PEOSHA (NJ's enforcement arm of federal OSHA laws), US DOT, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). All of these agencies or laws were either non-existent or in the infant stages of growth when both the firehouses were constructed. The function of the subcommittee and resultant recommendations to the governing body will be to evaluate the most cost-effective and practical manner in which to bring New Milford's emergency services into the 21st Century. In the meantime we must and will operate effectively using the facilities and equipment we have, and ensure the safety of the public (and firefuighters) at all times. Thank you.
Ann Subrizi August 24, 2012 at 09:08 PM
During a one – to –one conversation with a resident I was asked what would go in the old Shop Rite if a new Shop Rite were to be built. New Milford does not own the property but I answered that due to its’ centralized location a Public Safety Complex would be an idea we might pursue. In order to set the record straight, there have been no past or current plans in place to make this a reality. There are no secrets, no construction drawings, no meetings, nothing. I was having a conversation with a resident, not “tipping my hand.” I was not giving testimony. However, immediately after that conversation the rumors were flying about.
Pat August 25, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Well Jimmy, I think it might be too late. I am waiting on SOD to say that fixing the firehouse will contribute to the flooding problem in the flood zone.
Ulises August 25, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Pat, SOD's mission is all about stopping the development by the high school (go to www.sodnow.org to find out more). I hope the committee being assembled will build the needed facility we need and deserve for our great town. I also hope they don't suggest purchasing the existing ShopRite location as the site for a new firehouse because that will be a huge tax increase for all of us and offset any additional tax revenue building along the river will ever bring. And let's not forget we flood because of overdevelopment along the river (if we continue to build more along the river, our low lying neighborhoods will be brought up and our taxes will continue to go up).
Pat August 25, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Ulises, it was a bit of a joke, lighten up. Shoprite would be the biggest firehouse in the history of firehouses. I don't see that happening.
Michelle August 25, 2012 at 02:08 AM
You're going to be waiting a long time to hear that Pat. I am a member of SOD, and that's not what SOD is about. SOD is fighting a battle the whole entire town should be engaged in. You either have a vested interest in preserving this town or you don't. Flooding is only one element that Hekemian is going to be blessing us with. The high school is immediately downstream of this project. Imperviously covering 9 acres is going to push that water there and elsewhere. All the traffic and unknown elements also are a real threat to our children who will be attending that high school. Take a trip to the Sheffield in Englewood, or the Birchwood in Cranford, or to Hekemian's Boulder run and see how wonderful those Hekemian developments were for the community.
Ulises August 25, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Pat, that's what the Mayor told my friend in town was her vision of a new firehouse. So, I can't lighten up when she's pulling all the strings and I don't agree with her because it lacks vision of what's right for the tax payers of New Milford...
Pat August 25, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Let me try this again. I am well aware what SOD is about. It was a JOKE.
Robert August 25, 2012 at 02:38 AM
wtf Pat, do you know you just insulted about half the town. I hope you're prepared to lose a lot of friends. Bad joke. There is a lot of serious stuff at stake here.
TommyIce August 25, 2012 at 10:54 AM
Like Ulises, I sure hope they don't suggest it too. But I have a sinking feeling in my gut that Inserra is going to "donate" the property as the quid pro quo for the Heikemian development to happen. Maybe we just discovered what's in it for the M&C (both the Democrat and Republican members)
Ann Subrizi August 25, 2012 at 09:05 PM
See above
Ann Subrizi August 25, 2012 at 09:05 PM
See above
Ulises August 26, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Mayor Subrizi, I did see your comment above. And in that conversations with this resident, who's a friend of mine, you mentioned you'd like to see a new ShopRite by the high school too. This is the part that drives me mad. Not only are you for development along the river, while we're spending Federal Tax Payer money to buy homes along our waterways, but you've always stated to residents you cannot speak about the UW property because you're on the Planning Board. What changed? For example, we first met in March 2011 on Columbia Street. Our meeting meant a lot to me because I had and still have concerns about a lagoon that fills up during high tide and in heavy rains, etc... (not to mention the car that's still buried in that lagoon's muck, along with a lot of other trash - it's town property). You then asked me if I knew who put the flyers out warning residents about the UW development and asking people to show up to the next M&C meeting. I told you I created the flyers and distributed them right after Councilman Berner asked me to warn my neighbors about your plans with the development of the UW property. After I told you this, I, a resident how voted for the Subrizi team, with lawn signs (even got my neighbors to put them up too), asked you where do you stand on the development of the UW property and you said you can't speak about it because you're on the Planning Board. So, you could speak candidly to some and not to all? I'm sorry Mayor but I feel lied to.

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