Location would improve emergency response time, offer more training for firefighters, reduce wear and tear on equipment, and make more efficient use of headquarters’ space
SOMERVILLE –A new six-bay fire station on the vacant lot at 515
Somerville Ave. would provide a modern facility that would replace the current and inadequate Union Square and Lowell Street fire stations and improve response time to emergencies, expand training for the City’s firefighters, reduce wear and tear on equipment, and make more efficient use of the space at Fire Department headquarters. The City has submitted an order to the Board of Aldermen seeking to take the property at an appraised value of $4,875,000.
A new station on that site would improve Fire Department’s response capability, particularly to the Beacon Street and Washington Street areas currently first responded to by the engine from Union Square and the ladder from the Lowell Street station. The Fire Department could also undertake more training on the site, programs that the department cannot currently run due to lack of an adequate training facility. For example, the department last had a tower for ladder and rope training in the 1960s at the former Lowell Street station, and such a facility could be part of the architectural design of the new station, along with additional training space below ground for confined space and trench rescue.
The site would also accommodate all first line apparatus and spare apparatus stored at the Union Square station, while making better use of the Fire Department Headquarters at 266 Broadway, which due to its size cannot accommodate tandem parking of two fire pumps, nor allow ladder trucks to be moved out for daily performance checks. The 515 Somerville Ave. site would also reduce wear and tear on the ladder and pumper trucks currently assigned to the Lowell Street station, which currently must climb and stop steep inclines responding from the station. Finally, the recommended site is close to Union Square, meeting the coverage demands of the department.
Due to state law prohibiting the City from a traditional purchase of the property, the City has submitted a request to the Board of Aldermen to take the property from current owners DEVB LLC through an eminent domain taking for a public purpose at a cost of $4,875,000, the fair market value as determined by a state licensed appraiser. The price of acquiring the site and constructing the new station are expected to be offset by making the Lowell Street station site available for sale, as well as the sale of City-owned portions of the current Public Safety Building block in Union Square to the City’s master developer partner for the square, Union Square Station Associates (US2).