EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 26, 2012

Cost of fire station repair jumps to $100K

Project forces temporary move of Central Station engine, rescue truck

By Brian Messenger

---- — METHUEN — The cost to repair the crumbling floor inside the Central Fire Station has escalated to $100,000 — about $40,000 more than anticipated — prompting city officials to look for more funding within the operating budget.

The project has also forced the temporary relocation of a fire engine and rescue truck from the station, which is located on Lowell Street.

As a result, Methuen fire Chief Steven Buote said response times by the fire department in the city’s Central District will likely be extended by a “minute or less.” Buote said the maximum fire response time in the city remains less than four minutes.

Repairs to the concrete floor are expected to wrap up Dec. 7. Until then, Engine 1 will be stored at the city’s West End Station on Bean Street and a rescue truck will be kept at the East End Station at the corner of Swan and East streets.

“They’ll stay there until we’re able to use the building again,” said Buote.

City councilors approved $59,500 to repair the Central Fire Station floor in October. Years of wear and tear have left the roughly 2-foot-thick slab with deep cracks and an uneven surface.

The city has contracted with Patriot Restoration, Inc., of Marlborough, to seal cracks, fill in damaged areas and resurface the floor. But Buote said problems with the floor were found to be “deeper and more extensive than they thought” once the work began.

Mayor Stephen Zanni said lead was also detected and it was determined that new rebar must be installed within the floor.

Zanni is working with City Auditor Thomas Kelly to identify a funding source to cover the additional cost of the now $100,000 project. Kelly said he may look to use money in the roughly $1 million personal services budget. “I’m working on a couple things,” said Kelly.

Buote said he’s tried to get the floor repairs funded since becoming chief in 2009. To do so, he planned to spend nearly all of the $65,000 remaining in his annual departmental maintenance budget.

“This project at $59,000 ate up my entire building maintenance budget for the year,” said Buote. “Now the additional funding is going to have to come from somewhere else.”