EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 19, 2012

Methuen fast tracks firehouse floor fixes

By Brian Messenger bmessenger@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — METHUEN — Years of wear and tear have left the concrete floor inside the Central Fire Station on Lowell Street in rough shape. Its surface is chipped and uneven and deep cracks penetrate the roughly two-foot-thick slab.

“It’s just crumbling,” said fire Chief Steven Buote. “You can actually stand there and kick it with your heel and kick out chunks of concrete.”

City councilors on Monday approved $59,500 to repair the floor. Officials hope to begin the work within three weeks, or before the temperature drops significantly, since nine Fire Department vehicles will have to be stored outdoors as the work is completed.

“It has to go on the fast track,” said Buote.

Buote said the water stored inside the fire response vehicles cannot freeze without causing significant damage. So if the project can’t begin in short order, the chief said it will have to be put off until spring.

The city will pay Patriot Restoration, Inc., of Marlborough, to seal cracks, fill in damaged areas and resurface the floor. The project was approved unanimously by the City Council and the work is expected to take one week.

Buote said he’s been trying to get the floor repairs funded since becoming chief in 2009. To do so, he will spend the majority of his $80,000 annual departmental maintenance budget.

With $15,000 of that money already spent, Buote said the Fire Department will be left with a $5,000 balance for all other maintenance projects this year, leaving room only for emergency repairs.

“I’m concerned about that, but I can’t be overly worried because this project is so important,” said Buote.”

Buote said the floor is not yet a safety issue. But if left to deteriorate, he said the project cost would surely balloon.

The nine vehicles kept at the Central Fire Station include a fire engine, rescue truck, three ambulances, sport utility vehicle, decontamination trailer, brush fire truck and pickup truck.

In addition to parking the vehicles behind the station, firefighters must move equipment to the basement before work starts.

“We’ve got a sizeable amount of preparation to do before they come,” said Buote.

In addition to the floor project, city councilors on Monday approved $91,125 for police uniforms.

Police Chief Joseph Solomon said each member of the Police Department will be allotted a certain amount of money to purchase new uniforms and gear from Neptune Uniforms & Equipment Inc., in Haverhill.