Proposed $5.5m fire station considered in LitchfieldBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
January 04. 2018 8:45PM
LITCHFIELD — A public hearing will be held next week to gather input on a proposed $5.5 million bond to construct a new fire station.
A warrant article is expected to be placed on the March ballot asking voters to support the proposed bond, which would cover the construction costs of a new, 10-bay fire station on town-owned property at Liberty Way next to the existing town offices.
“This is not a healthy way to work,” Fire Chief Frank Fraitzl said of the current two-bay fire station at 257 Charles Bancroft Highway.
The existing building is not centrally located in town, is nearly 60 years old, has electrical problems, accessibility issues and code violations, according to Fraitzl.
“There is no space,” Fraitzl said of the current facility. Gear is stored among the apparatus, the department is borrowing a nearby church hall for training and firefighters do not have a designated decontamination area, said Fraitzl.
He said the original fire station was designed for a small volunteer fire department with about a dozen members and a town population of 700 people. Now, the department has 38 firefighters — the majority of those serving as on-call personnel — and a town population of more than 9,000 residents, explained the chief.
The Litchfield Budget Committee will be reviewing the proposed fire station project on Tuesday, and a public hearing on the proposed $5.5 million bond will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at Campbell High School.
Fraitzl is expecting that the proposed bond will be placed on the March ballot as a warrant article. If the proposed project is supported by voters, he said construction could begin this summer.
“It is a 10-month project from the ground-breaking,” said Fraitzl.
According to Fraitzl, the suggested location for a new fire station would provider faster response times to many sections of town. It will also enable all of the department’s apparatus to be housed inside.
Currently, five vehicles are housed inside of the existing fire station and seven are stored outside. With the proposed 10-bay fire station, the chief said nearly all of the apparatus will have its own designated door, which provides quicker, more efficient and safer operations for fire crews.
The design of the new station will also allow for a designated decontamination area and space between apparatus and high ceilings that would enable the trucks to be serviced inside, explained the chief.
“We certainly as an organization, and as the Board of Selectmen indicated, hope the community looks at the project and understands the needs,” Fraitzl said.
The project also includes space for future growth, added Fraitzl.
Previously, town officials floated the idea of a joint safety complex that would incorporate space for a future police station on the same site of the proposed new fire station. The existing police station is housed with the town offices located directly next to the future fire station parcel.
Warrenstreet Architects Inc. conducted a feasibility study in 2016, at which time it was disclosed that several items must be improved at the existing fire station to comply with state fire codes. Last year, voters approved $66,000 for architectural and engineering services to revise old building plans for the possible construction of a new fire station.