Town Manager Stacy Carter said Fire Chief Chris Reed indicated his needs for the new facility includes five bays to put the apparatus in, storage for all the other equipment, office space and sleeping quarters. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — Selectmen will meet next week to set a date for a public hearing on the condition of the Central Fire Station and what voters what want to do about it.

Before that hearing, the board outlined steps that need to be taken during a workshop via Zoom on Feb. 3.

The hearing is the latest step in an ongoing discussion about possibly constructing a station and how to pay for it.

The Central Fire Station at 151 Congress St., has cracking cement and three bay doors too narrow for new apparatus to fit through.

Selectman Peter Chase said before they consider investing in a new building to house all fire apparatus, equipment, offices, sleeping quarters and storage areas, they should ask residents if they want a new station.

“The thing is, we need to,” Selectmen Frank DiConzo said, because the building doesn’t meet code.

“If they don’t fund it, we don’t get it,” Chase said. “I think we’re putting the cart before the horse if we don’t find out if there’s an interest and want us to pursue it.”

Among the suggestions made to prepare for a public hearing were:

• A report on preliminary negotiations of three available parcels on Falmouth Street and Essex Avenue.

• A site visit from an engineer.

• A video of the entire station showing its deficiencies, posting it on a website or presenting it at a workshop.

• A draft plan for a fire station needed to pursue federal funding.

Town Manager Stacy Carter said Fire Chief Chris Reed indicated five bays are needed to house all apparatus, a storage area for other equipment, office spaces and sleeping quarters.

“We’re not looking for a high-end, material type thing,” Carter he said. “We’re looking for the basic needs. Even at that, it’s going to be costly.”

Code Enforcement Officer Richard Coulombe, a volunteer firefighter, said when he was acting chief he looked at the Paris Fire Station.

Carter said he’s been in touch with Oakland, which just built a one-story station. “We plan on taking a visit over there to look at that,” he said.

The town manager said if officials wait until the annual town meeting in June to conduct a straw poll “then you’re another year away unless you have a special town meeting to get approval to buy the land. We should have on the June ballot the approval to purchase land for the fire station.”

Because the June warrant has to be signed in about two months, a public hearing must be held by April 1.

Selectmen will will check with the Maine Center for Disease Control to see if a hearing can be held in Muskie Auditorium at Mountain Valley High School.

A year ago, Rumford and Mexico officials began talks about having a joint fire station. At that meeting, a state official said a federal economic development program could pay 90% of the cost.

It was agreed to hold a followup meeting, but the pandemic hit and in the months that followed Mexico officials decided they wanted to have their own facility.

The board will set a hearing date when they meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday via Zoom.


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