June 19, 2019

Deep River Firehouse Study Includes Alternative Sites for Firehouse

DEEP RIVER— The Fire Department Study Committee has submitted a preliminary report that reviews options for a new or expanded firehouse, including¬†alternate sites for a new firehouse if the town decides not to pursue a renovation and expansion of the existing firehouse building on the corner of Union and Elm streets.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the committee is expected to submit a final report to the board of selectmen in November, a step that would be preceded by a public information meeting where residents would have the opportunity to discuss options for a new or expanded firehouse.

The board of selectmen established the committee late last year to analyze the needs of the Deep River Volunteer Fire Department, and options for a new or expanded firehouse to replace the existing 1961 firehouse. The formation of the study committee came after residents rejected a $2.4 million renovation and expansion project for the existing firehouse on a 347-312 vote in a July 2010 bonding referendum.  A more costly project was rejected by a wide margin in a November 2007 referendum.

Smith said he is pleased the preliminary report included a review of alternative sites, allowing the selectmen and town residents to consider the option of building a new firehouse at a different location.

The report reviews nine alternative sites for a new firehouse. But most of the town owned sites, such as Plattwood Park and Devitt Field, would require a loss of public recreation land. The committee also cautioned that relocating the firehouse too far away from the downtown area could result in changes to the insurance services rating for local property owners. The insurance services rating determines fire insurance rates for properties and a downgrade in the ISO rating would lead to higher rates for property owners.

While the preliminary report made no recommendations, Smith said he is hoping the committee would make a recommendation for a possible firehouse building project in its final report. The recommendation would allow selectmen, and ultimately town voters, to address the firehouse issue in 2013.

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