June 20, 2024

Seekonk Select Board Votes Against New Fire Station


There will be no new fire station in the South End of Seekonk. The Select Board voted 3-2 Wednesday against placing an article on the Fall Town Meeting warrant. Chair Michael Healy, Pam Pozzi, and Justin Sullivan all voted no, while Chris Zorra and Michelle Hines voted in favor.

Voters at the May 2020 town meeting allocated $425,000 for the design of the facility at the former school administration building at 69 School Street. The town owns that property. The 8300 square foot building would consist of three components, including dispatch, living quarters, and fire suppression. The construction cost would have been $11.2 million. A debt exclusion, or temporary tax increase, would’ve needed to have been approved at town meeting before construction began.

Board members cited a possible lack of personnel to occupy the new facility based on the current shortage of firefighters. “I don’t know if I can support an $11 million building when we’re having staffing issues (in the fire department),” said Zorra.

“For $11.2 million, that’s an awful lot of money to have an empty building,” Pozzi said, adding there were other building projects in the works, including a new Department of Public Works facility.

“The staffing issue has been ongoing,” said Sullivan. “After holding discussions with the Fire Chief and the (firefighters) union, we want to try to get to manning levels that can sustain the units we have right now.”

“It is our job to provide the personnel for that project,” Healy said, noting 12 new firefighters would need to be hired if the station was to go ahead.

Sullivan acknowledged there are other projects which need to be considered first. “At some point we have to prioritize the projects that we’re faced with,” Sullivan noted.

Members of the South End Fire Station Building Committee said construction on the project would not have been finished until sometime in 2025.

“We can’t sit around and wait to build it to see if we have more (firefighters),” Hines said. “Banna Station runs, the (Public Safety building) runs, you can’t say we’re still going to have staffing issues. I don’t think squashing (a South End fire station) at this point is the right thing to do.” Hines noted construction costs would continue to increase in time so it made sense to start as soon as possible.

Last July, Town Administrator Shawn Cadime said the police department would benefit from having a new facility for communications, which would allow for faster response times.

Some residents had expressed concerns about noise should the new fire station be constructed near their homes.

Town Planner John Aubin explained the town’s fire stations are all situated in residential neighborhoods, including the Banna station on Pine Street.


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