Fairfield BOS approves spending on fire department buildings

FAIRFIELD — The newest fire department building is 50 years old; the oldest is 66. Fairfield Fire Department Chief Dennis McCarthy said none has ever had a major renovation.

“They need a considerable amount of work,” McCarthy said.

The Board of Selectmen this week approved $250,000 for what was proposed to be the first year of a five-year improvement plan for the town’s fire department buildings. First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick has said modernizing and renovating town facilities is one of her primary goals.

An outline released by the department lists the details of the Station Rehabilitation Program.

“The first five years of the program will address bathrooms, overhead doors, vehicle apparatus bay exhaust systems, apparatus maintenance facilities, ADA compliance, window replacement and kitchen renovations,” the report said, adding that the plan would keep the facilities operational for decades.

The plan now needs approval from the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting. Capital for the project will need to be approved yearly by all the town bodies.

According to the report, if approved, the money approved for fiscal year 2021 will be spent on bathrooms in the stations. McCarthy said the bathrooms in Fire Station 1 at 1140 Reef Road, Fire Station 2 at 600 Jennings Road and Fire Station 5 at 3965 Congress Street are original to the structures and their plumbing has deteriorated over time.

“If you can imagine (that) you had a 66-year-old bathroom in your home, what it would look like and how it would operate,” McCarthy said.

The Chief also said those buildings are not built in a time when there were female firefighters, and therefore do not have bathrooms for women. He said the plan would add bathrooms where appropriate.

Selectman Tom Flynn asked Chief McCarthy if they had done a study apropos the location of the buildings and whether any need to be relocated to be more efficient.

“I think it would be really beneficial to the fire departments to undertake (such a study) before we go and spend millions of dollars on the stations,” Flynn said.

Chief McCarthy agreed that such a study was warranted and advised that it would cost $25,000 to $30,000.