$13.9 million fire station tops Onset Fire District agenda

May 11, 2017

The Onset Fire District annual meeting is set for Monday, May 15 and the largest item on the agenda – in size and cost – is a $13.9 million request to build a new fire station on Sand Pond Road.

“If we’re going to rebuild, let’s do this the right way,” said Prudential Committee member Marcine Fernandes. “We need a station that’s going to last for 50 to 75 years. We need to build for the future and that’s what these plans do.”

According to fire officials, the department has outgrown its current quarters on East Central Avenue. The new station is being proposed for a town-owned plot of land on Sand Pond Road, located across the street from the Onset Water Department.

Plans call for a two-story building with space to house the department’s nine vehicles under one roof. New bunks, space for training exercises, a fitness area, space for equipment storage and a community room able to fit 100 people are included, too.

If approved, the station would cost residents an additional $1.44 per $1,000 of assessed home value for a 20-year loan or $1.19 per $1,000 assessed value for a 30-year loan. For home valued at $250,000, those would be $360 and $297 annual increases, respectively.

Less costly requests from the fire department include a $25,000 transfer from the district’s free cash account to purchase protective gear and clothing for firefighters.

Onset Fire Department Chief Ray Goodwin said a grant received in 2010 helped purchase a large amount of gear, but now the equipment requires replacement.

“A large amount of our gear is past its functional life and we trying to replace a large chunk of it,” said Goodwin. “That’s coats, pants, helmets – everything a firefighter needs.”

Officials are seeking a $40,000 transfer from the new vehicle account to replace a car 10, a Chevrolet Tahoe used by the shift commander and for medical calls.

“It’s starting to have mechanical issues and it’s time to trade it in,” said Goodwin.

Other financial articles on the agenda include a request to appropriate $160,000 for the debt and interest on the department’s ladder truck, which was purchased in 2014 for $760,000.

Voters will be asked to spend a total of $256,675 for the salaries of the Board of Engineers, three permanent firefighters on the department.

The chief engineer is set to receive a $94,010 salary, up $12,266 from last year. One assistant engineer is set to earn $81,332, up $1,594 from last year and another assistant will earn $81,332, up $2,533 from last year.

There is a $799,846 request to cover the payroll costs for all firefighters on the department. An article seeking funds for several fire department operating budgets is down $15,000 compared to last year.

The department is requesting a total of $167,500 for accounts such as: training/testing, radios, firefighter health and wellness, apparatus repair and more.

Voters are also being asked to approve a total of $905,500 or expenses related to district insurance, meetings and elections, legal fees, clerk-treasurer general expenses and other costs. That number is up $87,100 from last year, mostly driven by medical insurance hikes.

The Fire District meeting will be held in the Dudley L. Brown Post VFW in Onset, 4 Gibbs Ball Park Road starting at 7:30 p.m. on May 15. All registered voters living in the Onset Water District may participate.