April 27, 2017

The Current Fire Department Space is Outdated, Cramped, Counterproductive and Presents Safety Issues

Posted

I would like to take some time to give you an overview of the working conditions, space restrictions and safety concerns with the current Fire Department Headquarters and Station # 1 quarters. The department has long out grown the facility and the building has become counterproductive to our mission. Our firefighters protect the lives and property of the citizens of Rehoboth and those who visit it out of pure dedication and commitment to serve. The mission has changed drastically over the last twenty years and the time has long past for the facilities they operate, train and work out of to be upgraded.

Some of the issues we currently face include:

  • Over the last twenty years the apparatus housed in the station has completely turned over. The new apparatus is much larger and more sophisticated. We currently have to jockey or move one piece of apparatus around to get another one out depending on the type of incident we are responding to. This contributes directly to longer response times.
  • We have maximized all of the available storage space. We can’t get at supplies and equipment when the apparatus is in the building. There is an overhead storage space that is accessed by an old fire ladder and is not very safe. Every inch of wall space around the perimeter of the apparatus floor is occupied with supplies and equipment. We have built cabinets, lockers and shelves over the years but have reached the end of our useable space. We utilize outside storage trailers for the overflow which presents another set of problems.
  • There have been numerous additions to the infrastructure of the building over the years. There are miles of wires, conduits and pipes that have been added to the facility. This has not only affected storage but also offers little protection for these utilities.
  • The command staff and administration functions of the Department operate out of a total of 250 square feet of office space. The Fire Chief, Administrative Assistant, Fire Prevention, Training Division and Maintenance Division have to share this minimal amount of space. There is only one desk for the three divisions and the Deputy / Assistant Chiefs to work out of. When you add the file cabinets and office machines the space shrinks even more. The Chiefs and firefighters assigned to these divisions have to schedule around each other or are forced to work from home. To say the least this is counterproductive. Customers that need to do business with the department stand in the doorway of the office while being served. There is zero security realized by this configuration.
  • The Station 1 officers and firefighters operate out of one 108 square foot “radio room”. The backup console for public safety dispatch is also located in the space. Once you add the desk, PC, printer and file cabinets it’s basically a closet. There is no conference room or other office space availed to the Company.
  • The common area is shared by three agencies. The Ambulance duty crew is here from 7am to 5pm seven days a week. All of the furniture in the room has been donated by various agencies or purchased through grant money. The television was also donated. This area is also used for training, events, meetings and workshops. It is not conducive to any of these functions.
  • Storage is again an issue in the office and common areas. The mechanical room and one closet are jam packed. The decontamination room is also cluttered and requires moving objects when it is need which is another safety concern.
  • The access, parking, signage and physical appearance of the facility leave little to be desired. The roof has leaked for years. The heat and air conditioning offer no real climate control; the emergency generator is at its limit, the windows and doors waste energy and everything else negative that comes with a 45-year-old building.

As stated in the opening, the Fire Department space in the facility is outdated, cramped, counterproductive and presents safety issues. There is a real need for office space, a conference room, a training room, storage and effective decontamination. It has gotten to the point where it has become an embarrassment. The Town appropriates less than $400K a year for total fire protection. Regardless of what conditions the Department has to work and operate under we are required to meet all Federal, State, NFPA and EMS standards. These conditions make that extremely difficult. If it wasn’t for the dedication and commitment to serve and the professionalism exuded by our members we would be in serious trouble.
Frank Barresi

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