Donation Makes Possible Another Bay at Fire Station

CHESTER – According to fire chief Rich Antoine, the Chester Fire Association has received a sizeable donation to make possible an additional bay at the fire station.
Antoine told the board of selectmen about the donation and the plans at its Dec. 12 meeting.

Currently the department utilizes a 40-foot trailer on the side of the station to store extra equipment that does not fit in the fire hall, but Antoine explained that the new construction will replace that rented item. Currently the town pays $850 a year for that rental, said Antoine.
The chief told the selectmen the construction had been contemplated for a long time. The bay, with 10-foot doors on either end to match the existing structure, will house the department’s antique fire truck and extra equipment, according to the chief.
The board was agreeable to the work, but wants to see conceptual plans before anything is undertaken.
Chair Steph Landau suggested the firemen’s association get in contact with town engineer Dubois and King before any engineering work is done, as they were the ones who initially designed the station.
Selectman Jack Cannon asked for conceptual plans, cautioning against locking into definite ideas without the group’s choosing a good-looking design. “It’s not a terrifically attractive building in the first place, let’s not make it worse,” said Cannon.
Antoine said the goal is to break ground in the spring.
The board also noted that the plans will need to go before the planning board, and it may take some time to get through that process.
In other business:
• The board is looking to get off the ground a commission to look into the feasibility of taking ambulance service in house. That idea has long been discussed and reviewed among fire department members, but stalled abruptly when it got to the selectmen’s table.
In an effort to get a proper review started, Cannon gave some suggestions to selectman Joe Castricone on a mission statement that the latter agreed to write months ago. No other selectmen gave suggestions on the proposal, said Castricone. Those suggestions prompted the rest of the board to brainstorm who should be included on the commission.
The goal of the commission will be to analyze whether it makes financial and operational sense to have the ambulance service run out of the Chester fire station, by Chester personnel. Some members of the department argue that they have the expertise and equipment to handle the service, and in light of an ever more expensive contract with the Town of Derry to handle the service, it made sense to take a good look at the possibility.
The board speculated that the commission would include three taxpayers, one of them hopefully with a sound financial background, as well as a couple of firefighters, members of the budget committee and potentially a member of Parkland Medical Center, the town’s resource hospital. They sought an appropriate way to include the town’s finance director as well.
The selectmen agreed that none of them would be on the commission, but would serve as an executive review board.
The board speculated that it would review the matter again and begin interviewing people for the group in the first couple weeks of January.

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