At last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, deputy fire chief Mark Amatrudo presented the initial list of renovation needs that the Wilton Fire Department says are required at the satellite fire station in North Wilton. Calling the building “essentially a 1950s house that needs to be renovated,” second selectman Jim Saxe supported the deputy chief’s assessment.
The list of renovation needs that Amatrudo outlined will be compiled as a “statement of requirements” or SOR, to present to construction managers and architects as the town prepares to renovate the 58 year old building commonly referred to as “fire station no. 2,” located at 707 Ridgefield Rd.. In May, Wilton voters approved a $90,000 bond authorization to complete architectural and engineering schematics in preparation for renovating the satellite station.
Amatrudo said the SOR was intended to outlines “what will fulfill the town’s needs for the next 25-30 years, not just today.” He added that the station is a critical element in the department’s ability to respond because of the time it takes to respond from headquarters, “especially for emergency-medical response. It’s not a question of whether we might be able to do without.”
While the plan is to maintain the building’s current footprint, Amatrudo said there are a couple “critical things”:
1. The well and water system: The well is currently shut off, and the station relies on two 2,000 gallon tanks that supply all the water the firefighters currently use. (While that water is tested and potable, the firefighters have Poland Spring water that they use for drinking.) “This problem is the biggest we’ll have to deal with,” Amatrudo said.
- The well has radon, high levels of sodium and bacteria. “It’s not exactly drinking water,” he added.
2. The septic system: Amatrudo said this needs to be evaluated but it “seems to be okay.”
Among the other issues:
- Firefighting apparatus cannot fit in the station, and the doors need to be evaluated/replaced to accommodate more modern apparatus now in use and for future use
- Overcrowding: While the building is minimally staffed with just two firefighters, those needs may change to include a medic or other safety personnel, and the building as it is now cannot accommodate more staff on an ongoing basis. “Currently we have two people there 24/7. In storm conditions we automatically bump to four, and it will go to six if things get crazy.”
- Single bathroom: A single bathroom for two people, said Amatrudo, is manageable, but with more people, “you’ve got some issues with that.”
- Appliance use: They see heavy use.
- Decontamination: Body fluid isolation and decontamination is a “big thing,” Amatrudo said, and the firefighters aren’t supposed to wash and decontaminate items in the same sink. Currently the satellite station does not accommodate for those procedures adequately.
- Single pane windows, lack of insulation, and HVAC issues: Amatrudo said that not only is the HVAC system old, but that it was not increased when additional space was added onto the building. As a result, it is insufficient for the building’s current size.
- Wiring: “We have numerous breakers that trip,” Amatrudo said.
- Fire alarm, smoke alarms, sprinklers need evaluation
- The generator is “not old.”
- The chimney was rebuilt last year, and can stay.
Amatrudo said the list of requirements was compiled by a group, including fire chief Ron Kanterman, selectman Saxe, representatives from Turner Construction and several firefighters.
Saxe echoed Amatrudo’s evaluation and said it basically needed, “…a new envelope, new doors.”
First selectman Bill Brennan added that the firefighters have worked very hard to clean out any unused items and materials from the building and have cleaned it up. “The place looks substantially better and is more functional. But the SOR is flexible, and the attempt is to make the fire station good for another 25-30 years, and you don’t want to skimp. We may find less needs to be done, and we have building codes, so all of this will come out with the professionals–the architects, the engineers, the construction manager. Fortunately, Turner is very capable and confident. They’ll be moving toward RFPs and to getting the architects and engineers to pick the one we think will do the best job.”
The building was last renovated 25 years ago when the department adapted to the use of what Amatrudo called “career firefighters, 24/7/365.” Amatrudo added that the last renovation was done “fairly quickly, with little engineering thought,” and also said that the town has continued to experience approximately an 8-10 percent increase in incidents that the department responds to annually.
The BoS approved the SOR so that building professionals can be brought in to assess the project. Brennan said that there will not be a new building committee formed, but the current group that worked to put together the list of needs will continue to oversee the project.