New gear, renovation plans in the works for Fire District 1
Big plans are in the works for Dartmouth Fire District No. 1, as firefighters may be seeing new gear, a hazard pay stipend, and renovations to the Bridge St. fire station in the near future.
The Prudential Committee pored over a number of possible new expenditures for next year’s budget at a March 17 meeting.
A major topic of discussion was the proposed renovation of the iconic Padanaram fire station at 10 Bridge St., for which architectural plans were funded at last year’s meeting.
To meet the growing needs of the district, members said the building could either be widened in the direction of Cleveland St. or expanded upwards, adding height to the existing footprint.
The committee authorized Fire Chief Peter Andrade to hire a contractor to analyze the district’s needs and come up with cost estimates.
“This is a 40-year-old structure, and we are not in compliance in any way, shape or form,” noted Deputy Chief Jake Bettencourt. “We need to continue the steps forward.”
“We have to be cautious of our neighbors,” he added. “It’s a beautiful area people live in. We don’t want to upset the views.”
“I think it’s important that we keep a real nice aesthetic on the building,” agreed committee member Kevin Murphy.
Some of the district’s firefighters could also be getting a $1,000 hazard pay stipend for responding to a high number of calls during the Covid pandemic in 2020.
Chief Andrade said that around 18 crew members “really stepped up to the plate” and went “above and beyond” to respond to calls during the pandemic.
“We’re just looking to see if we can reward them,” Chief Andrade said.
“It was a tough year psychologically,” he added. “It was a terrible year.”
The district is also looking to get its crew new sets of gear to replace out-of-date backup gear, which the deputy chief noted is a liability if worn to an emergency.
Each set of gear costs $4,000. To spread out the cost, the district would replace ten sets per year for the next four years.
A special meeting may be held at the district’s annual meeting this spring for residents to vote on the hazard pay.
The date for the annual meeting has not yet been announced.