Representatives from , along with Rob Conley of Robbie Conley Architect, LLC, met with the Mayor and Council on Monday 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).
According to past and current chiefs, 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.
Past Fire Chief Angelo DeCarlo said that they are approaching this conscious that cost is the main concern.
"The priority is to take this department into the future," DeCarlo told the Mayor and Council.
"We are in the business of saving lives," he added. "And we need to do this safely and in the best environment."
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 Not only is it outdated, but it is no longer in compliance with federal standards.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. NFPD 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, due to the imminent need for a new truck, and bringing the building to code while providing much needed space, Company 2 is engaging the Mayor and Council in discussion regarding the best, most cost-effective, plan of action. 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.
The options discussed are:
- Tear the existing structure down and build a new two-story structure.
- Acquire property behind the building, or beside it, and expand.
- Renovate the existing structure.
Conley informed the council that the best course of action is to make a decision on which option they want to pursue and he can do a schematic design for the Master Plan. The schematic can then be broken down into phases. If the renovations are small, he suggests going with renovating the existing structure. However, if they are major, Conley suggests that it might be cheaper to just completely tear down and build new.
Mayor Ann Subrizi raised the issue that has also requested funding for a construction project in their firehouse. Among other things, the engine room lacks space for the firefighters to safely access and put on their gear when called out to a fire.
Subrizi also said that the . might need space to eventually accommodate a larger vehicle, and the is operating out of quarters that are cramped and non-compliant.
"Prisoners have to come through public space to get to court," Subrizi said, a practice which is in opposition to judicial guidelines.
Given those situations, Conley asked the Mayor and Council if it might be prudent of them to consider a public safety bond in order to take care of all of the emergency services buildings.
"This may be a good time to put it all together," Conely said.
Councilwoman Randi Duffie suggested that the borough auditor perform an audit of all New Milford emergency service facilities and report back to the Mayor and Council a recommended course of action. A suggestion was also made to have the borough auditor explore bonding for an emergency services building.
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