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Construction will create tight quarters for Hopkinton fire department

Union Leader Correspondent

March 25. 2014 10:09PM

HOPKINTON — With renovations set to begin in the coming months, the Hopkinton Fire Department is going to have some juggling to do in order to work out of the station during construction.

At town meeting, voters approved a request for $2,995,000 to create a second story and add a new bay onto the town’s main fire station in the village of Contoocook.

The building was constructed in 1974 and hasn’t seen many changes since then, but every inch of the space inside is being used to house the growing list of equipment used by the fire department to handle a variety of emergencies, according to Chief Doug Mumford.

Though the town looked at options for building a new station, it was determined that the location of the current building was best for ensuring the fastest possible response from the fire department, and the price tag for renovating the space was a better value than building new, said Board of Selectmen Chairman Jim O’Brien.

The bond request was put to a vote at town meeting and easily passed, and since that time, the board has found financing for the work.

“We’re moving forward with a 15-year loan that’s actually at a lower interest rate than what we planned,” said O’Brien. “So that’s good.”

But as the architects finalize the plans for the building before construction can begin, a lot of thought is being put into the logistics of running the department out of a building where lots of work is being done.

“The biggest challenge at this point is scheduling construction so that the fire department can do their work without having an impact on response time,” said O’Brien. “It has to be done in stages so it’s going to take longer to complete this.”

Moving the department out of the fire station and into another town facility isn’t an option, although relocating some of the equipment to the station in Hopkinton village or other town-owned buildings is being considered.

“We want to keep as much equipment as we can there on site,” O’Brien said. “The chief’s been thinking about how to do that.”

Some of the department’s vehicles may have to spend part of the summer outside, and the town is considering finding some temporary office space for Mumford so that administrative work can be done away from the chaos of construction.

O’Brien said the goal is to try to get the new spaces — including the second floor and the new bay — finished before work on the existing building begins. That way the department can shift into the new spaces, while work on the old is being done.

“It’s going to be a pain for the department,” said O’Brien. “This summer is going to be crazy for them.”

But the short-term pain will yield long-term gains, he said, and for a department that’s been working in extremely tight quarters for a long time, those gains are welcome.

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