Mill Hill Station Set for Major Upgrade

-By Seth Daniel

For the Record

Thanks to a $1,55 million Stimulus Fund Grant, the Mill Hill Fire Station will undergo much-needed repairs which will lead to a better environment for firefighters and safer conditions for residents.

The Mill Hill Fire Station on Broadway is a relic from another time.

While firefighters still operate out of the station on a daily basis, its standard is from a time when fire equipment was not so comprehensive and firefighting was less of a science. Inside the structure, one can easily see that the building was not built to handle today’s modern fire apparatus. And the living quarters upstairs are far from comfortable – though firefighters certainly make due with the accommodations.

However, they may not have to much longer, as the old fire station is about to be brought into the modern era with the help of a $1.55 million Stimulus Fund Grant procured by the City and Congressman Michael Capuano (D-Somerville).

Assistant City Manager Ned Keefe said that the City put the project out to bid last week – after a long delay in the design process – and they expect to open sub-bids and general contractor bids in May.

The total cost of construction is estimated at $1.4 million, with the entire project is estimated at $1.88 million.

“It’s generally a favorable building environment for municipalities and there’s no shortage of companies out there looking for work so we’re hopeful that we’ll see a lot of interest and some strong, competitive bids,” said Keefe.

The project is a major rehabilitation of the building, and will bring it more attention than its seen since it was constructed decades ago.

“It’s pretty much a gut rehab of the building,” said Keefe. “The entire building will be renovated and there also will be a small addition built to the rear of the building for the second-floor living quarters. In essence the layout will stay the same…Work of this caliber has never been done on that building. It will approach the work we performed on the Central Fire Station back in 2004.”

Keefe said the rehab will modernize the living quarters, and it will also improve the garage area where Engine 3 and Ladder 2 are stored – areas that are now very cramped and hard for firefighters to navigate in an emergency situation.

With the new station, the City’s entire contingent of fire stations will be brought up to date, said Keefe.

“This will really bring all of our stations up to the more modern firefighting standards,” he said.

While there is some skepticism within the Mill Hill Station that the project will get done (one firefighter indicated he’d believe it when he saw it), Keefe said they plan to get moving fast.

“We hope to be under construction on the station in June,” he said. “It will take about 10 months to complete and we hope to bring the firefighters back to the renovated building by next April.”

During construction, both pieces of apparatus and the firefighters serving in the station will be moved to either Prattville Station or the Central Fire Station.

The station is paid for mostly by the Stimulus grant. The City pledged matching funds in the amount of $373,755. The federal grant comes out of the Office of Homeland Security and falls under a program that specifically targets Stimulus funds for Fire House construction projects.

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