Mass. city dedicates $2M to fire stations

Officials are taking steps to clean up its firehouses, one week after Mayor Marc McGovern said he found the conditions to be "extremely disturbing"


By Adam Sennott
Wicked Local

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — City officials are taking steps to clean up its firehouses, one week after Mayor Marc McGovern said he found the conditions of three stations he toured earlier this month to be "extremely disturbing."

The council voted to approve a request by City Manager Louis DePasquale to appropriate $2 million to fund repairs at multiple firehouses as an initial step toward improving the living and working conditions at the city's fire stations, according to the manager's request. The funds will be used to thoroughly clean the stations, as well as repairs to windows and the HVAC systems, according to Owen O'Riordan, commissioner of the Department of Public Works.

McGovern thanked DePasquale for taking action.

"This is a quick turn around," McGovern said.

Last week the council asked the manager to conduct a comprehensive facilities study on all of the city's eight fire stations to identify long-term improvements after McGovern toured stations in Lafayette Square, Lexington Avenue, and the one at the Broadway headquarters. During the tour he discovered firefighters were sleeping on mattresses with holes, floors were being held together with duct tape, and some stations don't have carbon monoxide detectors or WiFi.

"These folks deserve much better," McGovern said at the June 18 meeting.

More than $9M allocated

Renovating the fire stations is something the city has been working toward for a while, DePasquale said. Prior to Monday night's meeting, the city had already allocated $4.5 million toward replacing the roof and upgrading the HVAC system at the Taylor Square fire station, $1.3 million for upgrades to the East Cambridge fire station, and $1 million for roof repairs and replacement and other upgrades for the Fire Department headquarters.

The city has now allocated around $9 million towards improving the city's fire stations after Monday night's appropriation, DePasquale said.

"Over and above this $2 million dollars, this is something we've been talking about for a long time," DePasquale said.

He added that the real challenge will be finding the roughly $25 million it will eventually cost to build a new fire headquarters. The city currently has about $400 million dedicated to capital expenses over the next five years and there aren't enough funds to add more projects, DePasquale said.

"A $25 million dollar fire station right now is not in the five-year plan," DePasquale said. "But I think based on everything we heard, and the discussions we've been having for a year, it's our job to figure out how we can put that in."

In the meantime, acting Fire Chief Gerard Mahoney said the department will work toward ordering furniture and ensuring the stations get a much-needed professional cleaning.

"Fire headquarters was built in 1934," Mahoney said. "So we have 80-something-years of build up of soot and exhaust even though we've had a diesel exhaust capture system in place for many years."

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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