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. 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. The current 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.