ORLAND — The town of Orland is likely looking at building a new fire station to replace the current facility, which is aging and experiencing myriad issues, including leaks, drainage problems and being noncompliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It’s not something that’s going to fall down this instant, but we’ve got a lot of different issues with it,” said former Fire Chief John Barlow. “We’ve been meeting since October and we’re looking at all the alternatives and trying to figure out which one we’re going to go with. The plan is to come up with a conceptual design.”
Any plans to build anew or rehabilitate the existing building on its 1-acre lot on Schoolhouse Road would need to be approved by voters.
Barlow is chairman of a volunteer committee charged with reviewing a 2019 assessment done by the Sewell Co. and making a recommendation to the town.
Other committee members include Fire Chief Robert Conary, Capt. John Gray, Selectmen Brenda Leavitt and Les Stackpole and town residents Ed Dailide, Cliff Guthrie, Marc Restuccia and Pete Robshaw.
“The overall recommendation from the committee seems to be leaning toward a new station,” said Chief Conary. The lot [1 acre] isn’t big enough to build something of adequate size. There’s no place to operate out of if the current station was rebuilt or underwent extensive overhaul. Fixing the drainage problems would be very intrusive and complicated since there’s no real grade there.”
The current building is too narrow, not deep enough for modern engines and too short, according to a report the committee issued to the town in February. The entrance doors are not high enough to accommodate modern fire trucks. This means that any replacement engines the Fire Department might buy in the future would have to be modified or custom ordered to accommodate the doors.
“Because of the way the land lies, both the main station and the training room flood anytime there is any significant rain,” Barlow said. “There is no cost-effective way of improving the drainage without intruding on neighboring property. The floor drains in the existing station are inoperable, making it impossible to rinse and wash the vehicles properly in sub-freezing temperatures. This greatly contributes to corrosion to the fire trucks, reducing their useful lifespans.”
The town does have land elsewhere that could be used for a new station. Barlow said Orland owns about 27 acres near the transfer station and the salt shed.
The metal building was constructed in 1974.
“We also asked a couple of towns to provide us with proposals for providing fire protection,” Conary said. “One did provide a generic cost but added that it would likely be more to purchase equipment and hire more staff. The other department simply was not interested.”
Also, contracting with another town for services has property insurance implications for residents.
A distance of 5 miles from the nearest fire department is about the maximum for good rates, said Barlow. “The closer you are, the better for insurance.”