Fire Commissioner Joseph E. Finn, lamenting the “awful disrepair” of Boston’s firehouses, is planning to spend more than $26 million to replace two deteriorating fire stations and renovate another pair, part of a broader effort to modernize the department, reports The Boston Globe.
Finn’s five-year capital plan, outlined in Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s proposed $2.86 billion budget, would be a boon for one of the nation’s oldest fire departments, which has not built a firehouse in more than three decades.
The commissioner described many of the city’s 33 firehouses as in “tough shape,” reflecting a lack of investment in infrastructure and construction. Earlier renovations were piecemeal, he said.
The Fire Department budget includes $13 million to build a new Engine 17 fire station on Dorchester’s Meetinghouse Hill and $10 million to build a new home for Engine 42 in Egleston Square, near the Roxbury-Jamaica Plain border.
“They are old. They are not conducive to modern-day housing for firefighters,” Finn said. “There’s a lot of asbestos and different things that are in them. All their internal systems — heating, plumbing — are all decayed. It’s just time.”
Construction is expected to start in 18 months, Finn said.
The department has also allocated $3.5 million to renovate the Engine 50 firehouse in Charlestown, according to the proposed fiscal plan. In addition, the commissioner said he wants to overhaul the Engine 33 fire station on Boylston Street, where Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr., and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy worked before their deaths in a Back Bay fire last year. It is unclear what that renovation would cost.
Fire officials said the last time the city had two new fire facilities was in the late 1980s, but those facilities — a firehouse on Purchase Street and a marine unit on Burroughs Wharf — were built by separate private developers as part of larger construction projects.
The Fire Department’s budget is expected to increase by 4.5 percent under Walsh’s fiscal plan. The increase includes a collective bargaining wage increase for firefighters.
The budget also accounts for a new firefighter recruit class to start this summer. The recruits are intended to replace retirees and ensure staffing levels, the budget plan said.
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