Fire dept. plans ahead for 10 years

By TAYLOR

MURCHISON-

GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

The Ten-Year Capital Improvement and Strategic Planning Committee held a special meeting on Tuesday, June 25, and heard an update from Bristol Fire Chief Jay Kolakowski regarding the fire headquarters renovation project.

According to the 2019-2020 Capital Improvement Plan, the renovations to the Fire Headquarters, 181 North Main St., are estimated to cost $1,350,000, and the reconstruction and possible relocation of engine three is estimated to cost $400,000.

Kolakowski said the department has yet to do “a ton of planning” as they hope to have an account established and the funding firmly in place before an RFP – or request for proposal – is issued.

At fire headquarters, the gas service line portion of the project has been completed. And, an RFP has been issued for the removal of the underground storage tank behind headquarters. These, Kolakowski said, are the main things that have been completed to date.

Engine Two, 151 Hill St., 81 Church Ave., has a new gas conversion, a new double broiler, and a high efficiency hydrosonic system, but is in need of resurfacing of ramps, and a new roof, which has exceeded its life expectancy, but there are no leaks.

According to the chief, Engine Three should be relocated rather than repairing the building in the current location as he didn’t think the repair was cost effective.

“That building has been struck numerous times by vehicles, cars that are parked up front. The parking lot ramp had been struck numerous times – knock on wood, nobody has ever been injured to my knowledge, in any of those instances, but, it’s just a matter of time, it really is, before something bad happens,” said Kolakowski. “There’s been a number of repairs to the building, the landscaping, cars, a number of claims put in for all those types of things, and honestly, we’re very limited on parking there.”

The building structure of Engine Three was described as vintage, and while it has a relatively new roof and a relatively new boiler, the department has been looking into a couple of projects that could take place at that location.

“We have some money left over in our budget this year, we’re looking at a couple of projects to prolong the life of that building such as a mini-split system for air conditioning in the building, as well as a renovation of the kitchen which to my knowledge has never been done,” said Kolakowski. “If we can do that and just make it a little more livable or worker-friendly in the meantime, it will buy us some time for the eventual relocation of Station 3.”

“The clock is ticking for that building as well,” the chief said of Engine Four, 17 Vincent P. Kelly, which also serves as the department’s training facility. While it is a brand new building, Kolakowski said it has to be maintained regularly with the understanding that in about 25 years “we’re going to have to look at replacing or doing some extensive work to heating systems, cooking systems, and all of that.”

Engine 5, 285 Mix St., underwent the conversion to gas heat during its previous renovation process.

The fire chief said he has been working with city director of facilities, Peter Fusco, and both agree that once they know the funding is in place, they’ll sit down with purchasing agent Roger Rousseau, facilities manager David Oakes, and other officials to begin crafting an RFP.

Since many buildings throughout the city are doing a conversion to gas, Kolakowski said, Rousseau is hoping to secure one of the city’s preferred engineering contractors to assist with planning or engineering  those gas conversions.

“It looks like we’re going to be able to do a number of value-added items to the project and we have started to prioritize some of those items,” said Kolakowski.

One of those projects, which the chief said is one of the first priorities, is improving the parking lot and making it fully American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. The department is hoping to get an LED lighting package and new hydronic heaters for the apparatus bay floor area to go along with gas, fire, and boiler. The chief said that some ceiling tiles may need to be replaced once the department does the “installation of the mini-split systems with the ceiling cassettes.”

“And also, the possibility of an installation of an extractor drying cabinet and ultrasonic cleaner for our people,” said Kolakowsi. “The headquarters are – the most highly staffed company – the company that really needs the extractor and hydrosonic cleaner more than anybody else, and if we could fit that into the budget we may do that as well.”