hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

February 5, 2013

City to repair fire stations

Initial work is to 16th Avenue station, with floor in danger of collapsing

By Shawn Regan
sregan@eagletribune.com

---- — Now that the Bradford Fire Station has been renovated, officials are turning their attention to the aging and neglected 16th Avenue fire house.

Mayor James Fiorentini said an engineering study has begun to determine the severity of problems with the building’s concrete floor and how to fix it. He said a portion of the floor has deteriorated over a period of years and could be in danger of collapsing if repairs are not made soon.

The fire station, one of four in the city, is north of downtown in the city’s upper Acre area near Walnut Square.

The station was built in the early to mid-1800s, the mayor said.

“We think it’s a drainage issue caused by sand and salt over time,” Fiorentini said of the damaged floor. “It’s a common problem with fire houses, but it has to be dealt with because these floors support a lot of weight.”

City Council approved $2,500 for the engineering study last week, on top of $5,000 approved last year for the work. The mayor said the additional money is needed because officials were unable to find blueprints for the building, which is also being repainted, he said.

“We’re assessing whether it’s a major structural problem or a less serious drainage issue,” Fiorentini said of the station’s floor. “Depending upon the severity of the damage, we will either borrow the funds to repair it or fund it from what is remaining in the capital improvement budget.”

Two years ago, the city began a program to repair and renovate aging and neglected fire stations, beginning with the one in Bradford. The mayor tapped police Chief Alan DeNaro to oversee the work shortly after he was named public safety commissioner and put in charge of the Fire Department as well as the Police Department.

The renovations to the Bradford station included a new boiler, roof, floors and cooking area. The city used jail prisoners on a work program release and a donation from Lowe’s store to paint the building for just $567, DeNaro said.

The Bradford station is the only one in the city’s Bradford section, so it is considered a key to protecting that part of the city, which is south of the Merrimack River.

Fiorentini said the city will also make repairs to the Water Street and High Street fire stations. The Water Street station has problems with its windows, boiler, roof and ventilation system, the mayor said. The High Street station has issues with its roof, he said.