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Bedford evaluating need for new emergency call station

BEDFORD — As of June 30, the Bedford Fire Department has responded to 308 fires and 858 ambulance calls since January, compared to 299 and 731, respectively, in the same time period in 2012.

“A lot of our call volume is the public’s need for emergency care services,” said Bedford Fire Chief Scott Wiggin.

The increase in calls is attributed to the several nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and multi-unit housing developments that have sprung up along the South River Road corridor in the past few years. The airport access road, which has attracted several new businesses and hotels to Bedford, has also added to the corridor’s growth.

The town council is taking preliminary steps to research the need for a substation to keep up with the increased demand for fire and emergency rescue services. The town council is scheduled to discuss the matter at its Sept. 11 meeting.

Initial discussions took place in 2005, said Town Manager Jessie Levine, and the increased growth in commercial and housing in and around the area has prompted the town council to revisit the project.

“It’s on the town council’s list of goals,” she said. “The thought is the substation could alleviate pressure from the (Route) 101 station. But this is just preliminary. We need to revisit all the reasons and costs.”

The Police and Fire Safety Complex on Constitution Drive and Route 101 is staffed 24/7, and fire and emergency personnel responded to 2,290 calls in 2012, including 629 fire calls, 1,528 ambulance calls and 133 “true 911 calls,” said Wiggin.

A study conducted by the Insurance Services Office indicated Bedford needed four fire/rescue stations because of its call volume. The office rates the distance of responses in miles.

“Anything over five miles is rated underprotected,” Wiggin said, adding that a substation on South River Road would provide the needed coverage.

He said the area along South River Road from the Manchester town line to Merrimack makes up about 8 percent of Bedford’s land mass, but generates about 41 percent of the department’s call volume.

In December, the town hired Daniel V. Scully Architects and Brickstone Land Use Consultants, both of Keene, to explore possible sites and help with building design.

The town is looking at four adjoining parcels for the proposed substation — 8.61 acres on Cedarwood Drive, 5.2 acres at 270 South River Road, 1.1 acres at 9 Sunset Lane and .9 acres at 11 Sunset Lane.

The town has contacted the owners and has called for bids to establish fair market value of the properties.

According to the notice of request for proposals, “All four lots are in the town’s Performance Zone District and, therefore, should be valued at their highest and best use, which the town believes to be as commercial properties.”

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