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Rocky Point firehouse

The Rocky Point Fire Department Company 2 is using a warehouse on Prince Road as its main base. Photo by Kyle Barr

Changes are happening for the Rocky Point Fire Department Company 2, otherwise known as the Black Sheep Company, as the fire district finally settles in to replace the aging firehouse on King Road in Rocky Point.

The night of May 1 the company moved all its equipment and vehicles into one of the warehouses of what was once the Thurber Lumber Yard property. The warehouse has enough room to fit the ladder truck, fire engine, brush truck, two EMS vehicles, and will also be home base for around 40 volunteers. The dirt road out of the property leads onto Prince Road, just a five-minute walk from the old firehouse.

The Rocky Point firehouse on King Road in Rocky Point. File photo by Kevin Redding

Anthony Gallino, the chairman of the board of fire commissioners, said they were lucky to get those trucks in such a close location.

“It would have been a big problem for us,” Gallino said. “We might have been able to relocate some of the equipment into the other firehouses and pulling certain stuff not used as frequently and leaving it out. This is just a block away, and response times probably won’t change at all.”

Mark Baisch, the owner of Landmark Properties and the old Thurber property, said he was approached by the department and didn’t hesitate to offer one of the buildings for free for the fire company’s use. While plans are still in motion to break ground on 40 one-bedroom apartments for seniors, he said the fire department being in that building won’t disturb that development.

“We’ll work around them,” Baisch said.

District manager Ed Brooks said the deconstruction will start May 13 with asbestos removal, which could take from two to three weeks. Once inspection of the building is completed, demolition will begin, and that could take a number of weeks before construction on the new firehouse truly begins. Overall construction could take upward of a year, according to Gallino.

Citing that the aging firehouse, built in the 1950s, had received little upgrades and attention for half a century, the district proposed a $7,250,000 firehouse project that was approved by residents 204 to 197 in an August 2017 vote. Also approved in a separate vote were plans for the purchase of a new ladder truck at a cost of $1,250,000. While plans were originally set to break ground in early 2018, Brooks said the first set of bids came in too high for the project, and when the district put in for a new set of bids, too few came in. The fire district has since changed construction managers and has settled on a new set of bids. The new ladder truck won’t be purchased until after construction of the future firehouse is finished.

The board chairman said the new firehouse is especially important as the community grows.

“This is just a block away, and response times probably won’t change at all.”

— Anthony Gallino

“The other building was outdated, heating and air conditioning was a problem, the bays were so tight that when trucks were moving out, the guys were changing just a foot from a truck coming in and out,” Gallino said. “It’s a conservative building, but it will suit our needs.”

Members and friends of the Black Sheep Company took to Facebook to commiserate about their old firehouse as they moved into the warehouse on Prince Road.

“Tonight is a bittersweet night for the North Shore Beach Fire Company [as] we said goodbye to our firehouse,” local resident Theresa Lattman wrote in a Facebook post May 1. “Our trucks pulled out for the last time, but a new firehouse will be built in its place that will hopefully serve this community for a long time.”

Rocky Point residents took to the polls Aug. 8 to vote on propositions to demo the old and rebuild a new North Beach Company 2 firehouse, and purchase a new fire truck. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Following a tight vote Tuesday, a decades-old firehouse in Rocky Point will officially be replaced with a more modern one, and a brand new fire truck will inhabit it.

Rocky Point Fire District residents took to voting booths at the North Beach Company 2 firehouse on 90 King Road Aug. 8 to weigh in on two propositions, one, to knock down the existing station for a safer, updated structure and the other, to acquire a new aerial apparatus.

Among a total 401 votes, 204 residents voted “yes” and 197 voted “no” to demolition, costing $7,250,000 to do so. Taxes will increase, but the maximum maturity of the bonds will not go beyond 30 years.

Rocky Point residents took to the polls Aug. 8 to vote on propositions to demo the old and rebuild a new North Beach Company 2 firehouse, and purchase a new fire truck. Photo by Kevin Redding

To purchase the new ladder truck, with a total cost of $1,250,000, members of the district voted 214 to 187 in favor. The maximum maturity of the bonds is said to not exceed 20 years.

“I’m very relieved,” Rocky Point Fire District Secretary Edwin Brooks said upon announcing the tallied votes to a crowd of cheering volunteer firefighters. “I didn’t think it would be as close as it was, but I’m relieved it passed. The majority of the community thought it was the right thing.”

Tim Draskin, a volunteer firefighter within the district for two years now, said it was an absolute necessity to refurbish the firehouse.

“The whole community will realize once it’s done just how much it’s going to impact everything,” Draskin said. “The building’s old and definitely needs it.”

Built in the early 1950s with very few upgrades since then, the current structure has been in need of repair and renovations for decades to accommodate for more modern requirements of firefighters, from new safety regulations to equipment and apparatuses, as well as mandatory handicap-accessibility.

Also, major out-of-date infrastructure, like heating systems, will be replaced.

Before votes were tallied, residents explained where they stood on the propositions.

“I’m not ashamed to say I voted ‘yes’ on both,” Pam Fregeau said, adding she knows the equipment needs to be updated. “I just want the firemen to be safe, because them being safe means my family is safe, means my grandchildren here are safe. I want us all to be safe. These firefighters put their lives on the line and they’re not even paid for it. For the amount it’s going to cost me a year, I think I can handle that.”

Mary Volz shared the same sentiment.

“I just want the firemen to be safe, because them being safe means my family is safe, means my grandchildren here are safe.”

— Pam Fregeau

“For the firefighters to do their job properly, they need a well-working building,” Volz said. “It should definitely be refurbished and if the taxes are going up either way, they should really do this work.”

One man, however, who asked to remain anonymous, did not agree.

“I think they’re excessive,” he said of the costs. “I’ve been in contact with numerous fire departments for many years and I’ve seen excessive spending of taxpayers’ money, so that’s why I did double ‘no.’”

District Commissioner David Brewer, who was among the board of commissioners that set the project in motion in June, said he was extremely grateful for the community’s support.

“The Board of Fire Commissioners is always trying to balance the needs of the fire department with the tax burden of the residents,” Brewer said over the phone. “We think these two bonds do just that.”

According to district officials, final design of the project will go forward, as well as the bidding processes for contractors.

They hope to break ground next spring.

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