Milton Fire-Rescue is primarily an on call fire and EMS agency that is supplemented by a combination of full time and part time staff during the day from 6:00am to 6:00pm. Milton Fire-Rescue currently operates from two fire stations. Station 1 is located at 460 White Mountain Highway in Milton. Station 2, constructed in 2002, is located in the Village of Milton Mills on Jug Hill Road. For more information on the department please visit our brand new website at www.miltonfirerescue.com.
Central Station has been home to Milton Fire-Rescue since 1952. The current facility was formally a horse barn constructed in approximately 1807 and moved to the current site in 1952 to be used as a fire station. Like many stations in rural communities in New Hampshire, the original station underwent a series of renovations (1963, 1970, 1975, and 2011) in attempts to prolong its usefulness and save the expense of having to construct a new facility.
On July 26, 2005 The NH state fire marshal’s office found numerous code violations within the station. Some of those violations included no second means of egress from the second floor, no second means of egress from the main office area, no second means of egress from the main apparatus floor as well as no second means of egress from the lower level apparatus bays. Other violations included no smoke detectors, no fire barriers between floors, including two open stairways, nor a fire alarm system to notify occupants. These items were brought to the selectman for consideration. The smoke detectors were added but no other violations were corrected due to the extent of changes that were needed in order for the violations to be considered corrected.
A follow up inspection in August of that same year obviously turned up the same results. At this point the town realized the dilemma it was in and began considering a new station. On February 27, 2006 a variance was requested by the town of Milton to allow emergency services to continue to be provided in this facility until funds could be allocated for a new station. In March, the variance was conditionally granted. In 2007, less than a year from that variance, the Fire Marshal’s office determined that “The use of the building for anything other than storage for vehicles would create an imminent danger to the occupants.” One year later, on February 4, 2008 the NH Department of Labor inspected the facility and found severe health risks. One of those health risks was the air quality from the apparatus diesel fumes, as no exhaust removal system exists within the station.
In an effort to provide a safe work environment for the employees of Milton Fire-Rescue, the selectmen opted to obtain a temporary construction trailer measuring ten feet by thirty feet for the firefighters and EMT’s from which to operate. The temporary trailer remained as the base of operations for Milton’s emergency responders for three and a half years until July of 2011. Earlier in 2011, Milton voters approved $60,000 to bring the Milton Fire Station into a condition that the firefighters and emergency could once again utilize. The Fire Chief spent countless hours working with the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal, New Hampshire Department of Labor, Primex insurance, and a code compliance specialist hired by the town. Together a plan was developed to reoccupy the existing fire station. Once the plan was complete, it was presented to the Fire Marshal’s Office for acceptance of the several variances requested. The Fire Marshal accepted the plan, which included adding a monitored fire alarm system, significant electrical upgrades, the creation of fire barriers between several parts of the building, and the installation of a minimal exhaust extraction system. The plan was accepted by all the appropriate agencies under the condition that these renovations where yet another stepping-stone in obtaining approval for a new central fire station.
In late 2010, Herbert Downs Jr. donated what is now the prosed fire station building site to the town for the sole purpose of constructing a fire station. There were two stipulations that had to be met in this agreement. First, the town has 7 years to have a fire station built on the site or it will revert to Mr. Downs. Second, the fire station must be constructed in the memory of Herbert Downs Sr. who served as Milton’s Fire Chief for several years.
In March of 2011, Milton Voters approved $5,000 to be placed in a capital reserve fund for the design of the proposed fire station. Most of this money was utilized to survey and create a “current conditions” plan of the future building site. A year later in 2012 Milton Voters again overwhelmingly approved $30,000 to be added to the ”Herbert Downs Fire Station” CRF for planning and design of the proposed station. The building committee reconvened and began discussion on how to proceed with a design. After much discussion with various contractors, architects, consultants and other fire chiefs it was determined to hire a Construction Manager/Architect team. During the summer of 2012, the building committee requested qualification RFQ from a CM/AE team. Nine teams showed interest in the project. After interviews, reference checks, and requests for additional information the committee selected Eckman Construction and Goudreau Architects as the design team.
After the selection of the team, the building committee went to work with the architect to begin the design and cost proposal for the new station. The design was completed and presented to the body of the building committee for comments, review and suggestions. Through a collaborative effort between Eckman Construction, Gourdreau Architects, the fire department, and the building committee, the proposal went through a few revisions. In the end, the current proposal before you is what the building committee and the fire department have agreed to, as the best proposal that meets the need of the town today and tomorrow.
In March of 2013 Voters narrowly rejected the proposal, missing the needed 2/3 vote by only 21 votes. When the poles closed the final count was 447 yes and 334 no, 57% of the voters approved the project. Despite defeat the department was encouraged by the show of support. The building committee reconvened in early spring and decided to move forward with the same proposal in 2014. The contracts with Eckman and Goudreau where updated at no upfront cost to the town.
Over the summer of 2013 the Chief spent countless hours studying the plans, attempting to find ways to eliminate extra costs. Several visits where made to area fire stations with the Selectman and building committee. In the end the previous years plan was substantiated with only a few minor changes. First, a set of male and female bathrooms was eliminated and a single use bathroom was created in a space previously held as a report writing station. Second, the space that once housed the male and female bathrooms has been converted into the emergency operation center for the town. The final change included finishing the previously unfinished space in the rear of the structure. This area now includes the male and female shower and bathroom facilities as well as the kitchen and future space for bunk rooms. In the end the increased costs are due to rising construction costs, completely finishing the facility to meet our needs and increases in design costs.
Once the changes were made between the fire department and the architect they where reviewed by the building committee and the selectman fro approval. At that point the updated proposal was sent to Eckman Construction to update the projects figures and review the previous figures to ensure accuracy. The committee met in late November of 2013 with Eckman and Gourdreau and went over the project item by item making any needed adjustments. At the conclusion of the meeting all parties involved came to an agreement that the new proposed price for the fire and EMS facility will be $2,864,100.