RVFD Hunts For Temporary Home

Front Page / Oct. 8, 2015 9:41am EDT

Town Investigates New HQ Locations
By M. D. Drysdale

A month after a disastrous fire destroyed the Randolph Village fire station and three fire trucks, steps are well underway to purchase new equipment and to find a new firehouse to put it in.

It has been a productive month, but not an easy one.

“I take it one day at a time,” said Fire Chief Jay Collette. “It’s probably going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. An enormous task.”

In the aftermath of the fire, two committees were set up. One had the responsibility of finding temporary housing for the department’s remaining equipment, while the second would seek permanent sites for a firehouse. It is hoped by town officials that the new site could house both the fire and police departments.

The solution of the temporary firehouse problem appeared to be in sight this week, thanks to an offer from Stagecoach Transportation.

Collette told The Herald this week that Stagecoach has offered the use of some of the garage bays that it owns on Hedding Drive.

“We are trying to solidify it, and we are very close,” Collette said. “It was very generous of them to offer it.”

There’s enough room there to temporarily house three pieces of fire equipment, and there’s a meeting room that the firemen can use.

The department needs to do some electrical work in the building, but it probably can start using it by the end of the month, he said.

Still in Business

The fire chief stressed that the Randolph Village Fire Department currently does have the capability of fighting a structure fire in its service area, which includes Braintree..

In fact, he said, “we were up and operational Friday” after the Tuesday fire.

“We have enough resources in Randolph to deal with that,” he said. “We have one good truck, and other resources we can get from sister departments and mutual aid societies.”

The “one good truck” is a stroke of luck. One of Randolph’s trucks was parked in the Randolph Center garage at the time of the fire and thus was spared.

The selectboard took its first step last week to procure new equipment. It approved entering into an agreement with VTEC in Williamstown to purchase a cab/chassis and a tank to create a tanker to replace the one that was lost, at a cost not to exceed $199,794.

The cab will be shipped from Georgia, and the polytank from California. Both will be shipped to V-Tech in Williamstown, where the truck will be rebuilt, Collette said. Collette said V-Tech has, in the past eitther built or rehabbed three vehicles for the department.

Next, the department will turn its attention to buying a new pumper truck (the last one cost $410,000 four years ago) and after that a smaller pickup-based truck.

Town Manager Mel Adams said the town is insured for $299,000 for equipment.

He noted that buying a new tanker was anticipated even before the fire, and the selectboard had anticipated budgeting part of that amount in the annual budget.

Insurance for the loss of the building and other contents is likely to cover $800,000 to $1 million, he said.

The Long Term

The long-range committee has been busy as well, the town manager said. An evening meeting was scheduled for yesterday to discuss progress so far.

Headed by Selectman Larry Richburg, the committee also includes board member Marjorie Ryerson, Randolph town crew chief Bill Morgan, RVFD Asst.Chief Mike Hildenbrand,and police Chief James Krakowiecki.

The group started with a list of 25 potential sites, on both sides of the river. Some were not known to be available, but some were suggested by their owners, Adams said. None of the sites are being disclosed at this point.

The committee members have been visiting the sites, and 10-12 are left to visit, he said. After the first round, the committee will revisit a group of 10 or more and will try to come up with a list of three favorite sites, which they will review with the selectboard.

Then research will be done to see how much the proposed sites would cost the town, and the various options will be prioritized again, with the purchase price included as a factor.

That procedure should take place in early November, Adams estimated, with a goal of purchasing a site by the end of the year.

The town has no preference on which side of the river the facility would be, he said.

Manager Adams is, however, adamant that the solution ought to put the fire and police departments together in a single building.

Chief Krakowiecki also said he thinks the current police office is “not the right place.” But he said he would not hold out for a combined office.

I’ve been in this building for 14 years,” he said. “I’m a soldier; I go where they send me.”

Adams said a combined site would save the town a lot of money, citing insurance, heating, and construction costs.

“Two buildings are more expensive than one,” he said.

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This article has been corrected from the print version, which misidentified the company that is building a new tanker for the fire department. It is Vermont FireTechnologies or V-Tech, not Firetec. Also, the name of Asst. Fire Chief Mike Hildenbrand was omitted from the list of people serving on the long-range committee in the print version. Also, the fire department is ready to respond to fires in its entire service area, not just Randolph Center. Also, it was the tanker, and not a pumper, that was scheduled to be replaced this year.

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