Architects to present 4 fire station options

  • Bernardston Fire Department.

  • The Bernardston Fire Department, located at 18 Church St., struggles with a lack of space when all of its vehicles are parked in the station, according to Fire Chief Peter Shedd. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • The Bernardston Fire Department, located at 18 Church St., will hold an open house Tuesday at 6 p.m., in advance of the public forum at 7 at Bernardston Eelementary School. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

Recorder Staff
Sunday, November 13, 2016

BERNARDSTON — Bernardston residents can share what they’d like to see in a new fire station during a public forum Tuesday.

The forum, which will be held at Bernardston Elementary School, will start at 7 p.m. and will immediately follow an open house at the fire station from 6 to 6:45 p.m.

The open house was a recommendation by architects from Stevens & Associates, the engineering and architecture firm overseeing the planning, to allow residents who don’t normally visit the station to see the space constraints the department currently has to work with. Then, the forum will allow residents to weigh in on the architects’ proposed designs.

According to Fire Chief Peter Shedd, the station is extremely overcrowded. It houses four vehicles, with no room for the department’s three equipment trailers, which are stored outside, and little office space.

To remedy the situation, residents voted to conduct a feasibility study on the station during a special town meeting in September, and a Fire Station Expansion Committee was formed to oversee the study’s findings.

Since then, the seven-member committee has held several meetings with Stevens & Associates’ architects. During an Oct. 25 meeting, Jon Saccoccio and Cory Frehsee of Stevens & Associates presented the committee with four possible blueprints for a new fire station, in preparation for the public forum.

“We kind of want to anticipate what residents are going to say,” Saccoccio said. “And we want to be able to look back and explain why we’re doing what.”

Saccoccio added that the forum will be an opportunity to present residents with the pros and cons of their possible designs.

“I really suspect that we’ll pull a lot of ideas together,” he said.

The stream that runs on the westernmost side of the property is one of the biggest restraints architects identified, Saccoccio said, though they’re also considering rerouting the stream to maximize space. Firefighters conveyed they’d like to have overhead doors on the new building’s opposite sides, giving them the ability to drive out in both directions, and indicated 25 parking spaces to accommodate the entire staff would be ideal.

Possible designs

Architects developed four schemes.

Scheme A: Saccoccio said scheme A is the “bells and whistles” scheme with nearly 9,000 square feet, eight apparatus bays, seven feet between the bays and a single story layout. However, the building would leave a large site footprint and would be the most expensive to build, with an estimated cost of between $1,972,000 and $2,242,000, according to the blueprints.

Scheme B: Scheme B would be located in the back corner of the lot, adjacent to Library Street, with slightly less square footage than scheme A, drive through apparatus bays, a significant amount of parking and a small site footprint. However, the building would have only six apparatus bays and would be two stories with an elevator and stairs, which Saccoccio said is inconvenient in a fire station.

Scheme B would cost between $1,836,000 and $2,086,000. It would also allow the fire department to continue using it’s current building while the new one is built.

Scheme C: Scheme C would imitate the Guilford Fire Department in Vermont, which the committee toured. Scheme C would have nearly 7,000 square feet, the potential for drive through apparatus bays and a small footprint. However it would only include six apparatus bays with five feet between them, and little storage and administrative space. It would cost between $1,494,000 and $1,698,000.

Scheme D: Scheme D is the lowest cost option, coming in between $1,304,000 and $1,481,250 by using the existing building and adding two additions. However, it would provide only five apparatus bays with administration spaces that are smaller than desired.

Stevens & Associates architects and the Fire Station Expansion Committee will further explain the pros and cons of the four schemes and take feedback from the public during Tuesday’s forum.