Fire station fails inspection

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RUMFORD – An inspection by the Office of the State Fire Marshal of the Rumford Fire Station confirmed Chief John Woulfe’s suspicions.

The 80-year-old building may be beautiful and historic, but it also contains life and safety issues that must be addressed.

High among the violations is the absence of two exits from each of the brick structure’s three floors.

“We’ll need an architect for this,” Woulfe said Monday afternoon.

The basement stores firefighting apparatus as does the first floor.

Neither has two exits that meet fire code. The third floor houses a training room and living quarters for firefighters. It, too, does not have a second exit that would meet code, said Woulfe.

He said an architect’s design work would compare costs for a fully sprinkled building with approved exit requirements.

“We wouldn’t necessarily need to do both,” Woulfe said.

He estimated a cost of $30,000 to $35,000 to install sprinklers throughout the station. If that option is decided upon, he said the money would come from a fire station capital account.

Woulfe said he plans to discuss hiring an architect to draw up plans with selectmen and the town manager during the next few weeks. Once a design has been prepared, residents will vote on changes to the fire station at the annual town meeting in June.

Neither Town Manager Stephen Eldridge nor board Chairman Jim Rinaldo could be reached Monday afternoon.

Woulfe submitted a plan to the Office of the State Fire Marshal to address each of the 10 violations on Dec. 29.

According the the department’s plan, remaining smaller issues will be addressed by March 1. They include installation of exit signs, construction of a handrail on the back door of the station, relocation of three liquid propane gas tanks, and replacement of sleeping room and doors.

If installation of a sprinkler system is done, Woulfe said it would likely happen within two years, or two years of setting aside money for the fire station capital account.

Woulfe invited the representative from the office to make the inspection. Once that was completed, the clock began ticking for making the necessary modifications, Woulfe said. No specific time frame is mandated by the state fire marshal’s office as long as the town is working on bringing the building up to code.

Discussion on the need for a new fire station has been ongoing for years. Woulfe said no steps will be taken to construct a new station until the Downtown Revitalization Committee presents its recommendations to selectmen.

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