By Alex Lippa
---- — KINGSTON — It’s been talked about for years, but town officials are once again exploring the possibility of upgrading the fire station.
At a selectmen’s meeting last week, fire Chief Bill Seaman appeared and discussed the viability of moving the fire station or significantly renovating the current one.
“We are way overdue,” Seaman said yesterday. “We anticipated being in a new or renovated location several years ago.”
In 2007, a study was conducted to look at potential new locations for a fire station. The study identified an area of land around the police station, which is town property, and 24-27 Main St., the site of a YWCA Camp before the town purchased it in 2008.
The station is now at 148 Main St.
Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Heitz said it’s too early to tell which location selectmen would prefer.
“It’s premature right now,” he said. “We would need to figure out how to fund it as well.”
Heitz estimated a new station would cost $3.5 million.
The other option would be to add on to the existing station, but Seaman was hesitant to endorse that idea.
“We’ve talked to engineers, who aren’t quite convinced that would be the best option,” he said. “Because of where it’s located in town, the cost may be equal or greater to building a new station.”
Seaman said the current station, built in 1949 with bays added in 1968, has become outdated and can’t accommodate today’s trucks.
“I have trouble just getting the ambulances in the station,” he said. “I have to adjust the mirrors to get them through the door.”
There are times, he said, when firefighters have to work overnight shifts and are forced to sleep in the chief’s office or even in the back of an ambulance.
But before any upgrades become a reality, the town needs to decide which plan will work best.
“I need to get the board to agree to a plan that works with us,” Seaman said. “If we want to do something outside of what they want, then it becomes a challenge.”
Heitz said it was too soon to tell whether any potential plan would appear on the Town Meeting warrant in March.
In addition to the fire station, the town is also looking at a new facility for the highway department. The most likely plan would be to construct an additional building at the current location at 12 Main St.
“The highway garage right now has a lot of valuable equipment that we have to leave outside because of space,” Heitz said. “This causes trouble, especially in the winter.”
He said the employees’ office space is in “a dilapidated old trailer.”
Heitz estimated the the cost of a new highway facility would be $400,000 and would be funded through a town surplus account.