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Dracut Fire Department Answers Questions Regarding Proposed New Fire Station

Aug 02, 2018 01:51PM ● By Bill Gilman

Dracut Fire Department

On Sept. 4, Dracut voters will not only be participating in the State Primary, they will also be casting ballots on a $4 million debt exclusion needed to build a new fire station on Nashua Road to replace the outdated facility on Lakeview Avenue.
This week, Fire Department officials took to social media to solicit questions or concerns residents might have about the project.
Thursday, they published answers ton their Facebook page, to the most frequently asked questions.
Their post read, as follows:

Thank you to everyone who has engaged in discussions regarding the proposed new Dracut Fire Station 3. Here are some responses to the trending questions.

We would like to centralize to help inform everyone. We appreciate all the feedback and will work very hard to answer all of your questions.

**Please note**: In our responses we will reference standards that can be found on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Why $4,000,000.00?

• The cost per household annually will be $34 per year per household. This will drop off in 20 years. The building is being built to 50+yr lifespan. 

• $4,000,000.00 cost is derived from multiple quotes received to construct. There were much higher quotes and the cost per square foot ranged from approx. $400-700. There have been several reviews and reductions made to original plan. This plan is the leanest it can be to not compromise safety of public & personnel. The plan is to also build a station for the future not just for today’s needs.

• The construction of this structure is to withstand hurricanes and other extreme conditions. The facility does not close. We operate 24 hours a day/365 days per year. This requires generators and other equipment to operate off grid when conditions have impacted utilities.

Why so big?

• The amount of bunk rooms is necessary to accommodate staff. The Dracut Fire Department has both male and female personnel which require separate facilities. The station also houses additional personnel on storm coverage and other major incidents. 

• The apparatus area shows three bays which are drive through. This layout is preferred to backing in to station as current Lakeview Station operates impeding traffic and most importantly driving through is much safer for personnel and equipment.

• The living quarters are separate from gear storage and gear washing facilities. This is to reduce cross contamination from soiled gear from where personnel eat & live. Firefighters are at an increased cancer risk & other work related diseases, the separation on either side of building is necessary to reduce these risk. There are many codes & standards requiring these be separated and have dedicated storage. (ref ex: NFPA 1851)

• The gear washing facilities require addition specific plumbing requirements that add cost to accommodate. These are unavoidable cost to meet the standards for firefighting gear care and maintenance. Clean & properly stored gear is paramount to personnel health and safety.

Why so many trucks in layout?

• The proposed plan shows 4 vehicles and a boat. 

• The dedicated apparatus for this station is Engine 3. Engine 3 responds to structure fires, motor vehicle accidents, medical aid and other emergency services they are called upon. 

• The Brush Truck is used to respond to fires in remote areas including the state forest in which Dracut has a major coverage area of the over 1,000 acres the State Forest spans.

• Station 3 responds to ice & water related emergencies on Long Pond, Lake Mascuppic & Beaver Brook. Currently Station 3 does not have a boat or related equipment due to lack of space. This district possesses the two largest bodies of water. These emergencies are obviously fast response incidents. Currently, the ice rescue & boat respond from Station 1 at 488 Pleasant St which is not ideal when seconds count. 

• Engine 4 in layout is showing where we would have one of our second line backup apparatus. This will allow the company to have backup truck ready when needed. These trucks see a lot of use. They require regular maintenance and unfortunately, they do break from time to time. The ability to stage one of these trucks will help minimize out of service time. Additionally, when major incidents take place requiring a full department call back we will have a strategically positioned second truck ready. 

• The fourth truck unnamed vehicle in layout is for reference to show ability to have vehicle inside when needed. Again, during major storms requiring addition staff and when training staff may be on site we can store vehicle indoors allowing the apparatus to be mission ready if needed.

Why do we need another station?

• To clarify this is to replace existing Lakeview Ave station. This is not an additional station to the town.

• Dracut is just over 21 square miles. The strategic placement of the three stations in town are to reduce response times to emergencies. We are required to meet standards for our response times (ref ex: NFPA 1710) For reference Lowell is just over 14 square miles & Tyngsboro is just over 18 square miles. 

• Not having a station in this district is not an option. The Dracut Fire Department responded to 4,026 calls in 2017. Engine 3 responded to 1,986 of these calls in 2017. That is nearly half the entire call volume. This year that is trending to increase again. This is the busiest station in the town.

Hope this helps answer some of the questions. Thank you again everyone!

Al Fresca


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