Braintree Fire Headquarters renovation plans underway
BRAINTREE – Windows is a good place to start talking about the issues at Braintree Fire Headquarters.
In some places, cardboard has replaced glass. One sheet of plywood filled another. Some windows do not open and their frames contain lead paint. Some offices in the 91-year-old building have no windows.
And these are by no means the most serious problems. The roof is leaking, as is the cast iron plumbing. The flooring under the second floor carpet contains asbestos, and behind panels in a locker room are walls containing lead from when the building also housed the police department. Then there is the mold.
“Basically, this building hasn’t been touched since it was built in 1931,” said Fire Chief James O’Brien, who is in his 10th year in the role.
Members of the city council’s public safety committee visited the fire department headquarters on Wednesday evening.
General Councilor Shannon Hume, who chairs the committee, pointed out that the city’s public safety buildings are busy 24 hours a day and that fire stations are where firefighters not only work, but eat and sleep. .
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“It is in dire need of repairs,” Hume said.
“That’s an understatement,” O’Brien added.
In May, the council approved an additional $7 million for work at fire headquarters, bringing the total to $11.5 million. Plans for the project, which are nearing completion, include adding a two-story addition to the side of the building and gutting much of the interior.
There will be renovated and expanded dormitories for firefighters, new toilets and showers, a decontamination area, a fitness center, a new kitchen and a training area. The roof will be replaced and some exterior repairs will be carried out.
O’Brien said firefighters will vacate the building and temporarily move into the Braintree Historical Society’s Gallivan House on Washington Street in November for 12 to 16 months. The fire apparatus will be housed in Quonset hut-like structures in the station’s rear parking lot.
Maison Gallivan was renovated by members of the city’s equipment department.
The other two stations in the department are in much better condition. Highlands station was built 26 years ago and renovations to East Braintree station were completed 6.5 years ago.
Hume has visited the fire headquarters several times during his time on the council and has advocated for solutions, saying the building is in a “deplorable state”.
“We have to do better and we can do better,” she said.