Rumford is looking to replace the Central Fire Station, built in 1924, with a new building that is larger and can accommodate new equipment. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — Voters have authorized the Board of Selectpersons to purchase land for a new fire station.

The action was taken at the business meeting portion of the 2021-22 municipal budget warrant Monday, when citizens approved all nine articles. The remaining 39 articles were voted upon by secret ballot on Tuesday.

Deputy Town Clerk Bev Thorne said Tuesday a clear majority of the 33 people present at the business meeting raised their hands or colored cards in favor of the authorization to purchase land.

There was very little discussion about Article 9, but questions were asked about the new fire station.

Town Manager Stacy Carter said when the town gets enough information on the cost of building a new station, they will go to the citizens for approval.

He said town officials have realized since the 1990s the need for a new fire station, but have been unsuccessful in all three attempts to obtain funding. Twice, townspeople turned down requests, and on the third try in 2009, the town was awarded a $3 million grant, but that funding never came through.

Carter said he was told the expected cost for the type of fire station the town is looking to build is $4.5 million.

At a special town meeting held on Feb. 24, voters approved an extension to the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the Rumford Power Plant on the Industrial Park Road.

Carter said that extension also provided the town with an additional $1.35 million, “which we hope to put towards a public safety building. That money will be put into a fund until we are able to move forward with that program.”

Fire Chief Chris Reed said when the Central Station at 151 Congress St. was built in 1924, fire apparatus was much lighter. Today’s heavier equipment is causing deterioration of the floor.

The fire station currently houses, on a regular basis, 5 fire apparatus and 2 trailers. Add in other equipment, the combined weight is 141,805 pounds. Beyond that, there is a building that houses Ladder 3, which weighs in at 69,500 pounds. Despite the flooring system being reinforced in 1991, stress on the structural integrity of the building has resulted in a number of cracks forming on the floor and elsewhere.

“That’s a lot of equipment in a small box,” said Reed.

Carter and Reed both noted that constructing a new fire station will be a two- to three-year process. During that time, Reed said the progression of the cracks will continue to accelerate.

Another issue with the three-bay facility is narrow doors.

Engine 7 measures 105 inches from mirror to mirror and the bay doors are 110 inches across, meaning you only have 2.5 inches of clearance on each side, providing the truck is dead center.

Reed said Rumford Fire had 652 calls last year, which is significant for equipment going in and out of the station. “They have to be careful not to damage the building or the apparatus.”

He said the new facility needs five bays to put the apparatus in, storage for all the other equipment, office space and sleeping quarters.

Asked about sites the town has explored for a new fire station, Board Chairman Chris Brennick said they’ve explored around the Falmouth Street area, in part due to the number of old tenement buildings there.

He also noted Rumford tried the regional approach for a fire station with neighboring Mexico, which also is looking for a new building. However, Mexico has decided to go out on its own for a fire station.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: