RUMFORD — A simple 4-0 vote at Thursday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting could better Rumford’s chances of winning a $3 million federal grant being sought to build a new fire station. The deadline to apply is Friday, July 10.
The unanimous vote OK’d a pledge by selectmen to approve spending up to $25,000 for in-kind services for the project, contingent on Rumford getting the grant.
“We’re not looking to put Public Works to work or to spend any money,” Stacy Carter, police chief and Fire Building Construction Committee member, said prior to the vote. “The first step now is to clearly define a floor plan of the station.”
Having a ready-to-go project, Carter said, would significantly increase Rumford’s chances of getting the grant. That’s why he and fire Deputy Chief Richard Coulombe and fire Chief Gary Wentzell urged the board to commit to the project by approving a monetary figure they could use on the application. They also wanted selectmen to decide which of two land parcels owned by the town would be used to site the new station.
Carter lobbied for Rumford Avenue where the town’s snow dump is located, saying that site would be closer to the built-up portion of town and within walking distance of the police station on Congress Street for residents.
Selectman Frank DiConzo, speaking for himself and Selectman Robert Cameron who was absent, want the new station to be built farther west on Route 2 beside the Public Works building.
After more discussion, selectmen decided to include both parcels on the application as being available.
“Do the best you can with the narrative and send it in,” Selectman Mark Belanger told Coulombe. “We have the land and that’s the big thing.”
If Rumford doesn’t get the grant, Carter wanted some direction from the board about approaching townspeople for a bond.
Attempts have been made since 1991 to get a new fire station built, so, much of the groundwork has already been done. It just needs to be updated.
When a resident asked why the town needs a new fire station, Coulombe said a study in 1991 revealed the current building does not meet state life safety and building codes.
Coulombe said there is only one means of egress off the second floor, the fire escape is outdated and doesn’t meet current required criteria, the building does not have a sprinkler system, and there is no separation from the apparatus bays and the stairway going upstairs.
Additionally, the bay floors are cracking from the weight of the fire trucks and other apparatus.
“This station was designed for horse and cart,” Coulombe said. “We’ve outgrown that building.”
“Fire trucks are not getting smaller, they’re getting bigger and right now we have to special order a truck to fit that building at an added cost because it’s not coming off the assembly line,” he said.
Prior to the vote, Town Manager Carlo Puiia advised selectmen to determine where the money would come from for in-kind services, feasibility and architectural studies when town roads have been hard hit by incessant heavy rains and flooding this spring.
“I’m not saying we can’t find the money, and I’m not saying that it’s not a worthy project, because it most certainly is,” Puiia added.
“That kind of a grant doesn’t come every day,” Selectman Greg Buccina said.
He said he believes that economic development funds could be used.
“A brand new fire station would show people that we are committing ourselves to be functional in the 21st century,” Buccina said.
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While flanked at left by Rumford and Mexico fire Chief Gary Wentzell and Rumford fire Deputy Chief Richard Coulombe, police Chief Stacy Carter steps to the podium on Thursday night to answer a question from selectmen about criteria for a $3 million federal grant which is being sought to build a new fire station in Rumford. All three men are also members of Rumford’s Fire Building Construction Committee.

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