Warwick Selectboard, fire chief talk continued station construction

Staff Writer
Published: 5/13/2021 4:15:59 PM

WARWICK — Selectboard members met with Fire Chief Joe Larson this week to discuss how to move forward with ongoing construction work on the new Fire Station off of Route 78.

Speaking during a Selectboard meeting, Town Coordinator David Young said he has been unsuccessful in finding a construction supervisor to volunteer to oversee the project. After the town took ownership of the building from the Warwick Firemen’s Association through an Annual Town Meeting vote, members of the Fire Department who had been leading construction efforts stepped back. As a town-owned construction project, prevailing wage, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, procurement standards and other legal parameters apply.

“It’s a commercial project. It required stamped drawings. ... We need a construction supervisor,” Young said. “I personally hope we’ll get the tech school involved.”

Franklin County Technical School in Turners Falls has required permits, licenses and insurance for such a project.

“It’s as if you’re dealing with a major contracting firm in terms of their legal compliance,” he said. “And they have special standing with respect to liability with the kids on the job site.”

Selectboard member Todd Dexter said the town may need to consider setting aside funding to hire a paid contractor. He said the Selectboard could consider putting an article on the upcoming Annual Town Meeting warrant to ask for a sum of money to hire a licensed contractor and “get this project moving again.”

“This project has been underway for 20 years,” Dexter said. “It’s time to complete it.”

Larson, who was appointed by the Selectboard in July 2020 after former Fire Chief Ron Gates retired from the position, agreed with the need to find a professional contractor to help guide the project.

“I don’t build buildings for a living, and like Todd said, (the new station) has been sitting there way too long,” Larson said. “It’s time to get the ball rolling.”

Selectboard members’ consensus was to assess what next steps need to be prioritized in the ongoing construction effort, and to search for a project supervisor.

The new Fire Station was built in 2016, providing more space than the old station on Hastings Pond Road that was built in 1952. Since then, the Warwick Firemen’s Association embarked on building an addition to include a fully accessible bathroom, a communications room, a new office and a training room.

Last fall, new metal roofing and some exterior doors were installed. Then in February, members of the Buildings and Energy Committee committed to donating around $480 from their own pockets to buy six triple pane windows for the Fire Station, making it an increasingly energy efficient building.

In February, Larson said some of the work on the new station was funded using a payment the Fire Department received for completing training to prepare in the event that an emergency related to the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant were to occur. The account where the money was saved held less than $40,000, Young said in February. In addition to these funds, the department held chicken barbecues, softball games and other fundraising events over the past 15 years to benefit the station’s construction.

Residents who wish to donate to the construction project and the Buildings and Energy Committee’s goal of having the finished Fire Station be as energy efficient as possible may donate to the “Warwick Firemen’s Association Building Fund.” Checks can be mailed to Town Hall, 12 Athol Road, Warwick, MA 01378.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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