Building committee explores North Wilton fire station

Members of the Fire Station II Building Committee made their first report at the June 20 meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

Committee Chair Rich McCarty said his group has been meeting at the Comstock Community Center once monthly since April 5, 2016.

He said the committee did what it could to probe other Wilton town agencies and other towns for interest in a shared facility.

"Each of them basically said it would be nice to have but isn't necessary," McCarty said of the Wilton agencies.

As for the other towns, McCarty added, "there's very little interest, if any."

McCarty said there are three "critical" issues facing the Fire Station II satellite station that was built in 1957.

These are potable water, the septic system, "and some new seismic-related structural codes the state has put out," McCarty said.

"Results of well testings show elevated levels of arsenic, so we need to solve for water," McCarty said.

He said there's land trust property "across the street and down a bit" where "there is a well."

"We've asked [Director of Facilities and Energy Management] Chris [Burney] to search for that well and test that well water," McCarty said.

He said the septic system needs review by an engineer, but that the "critical issue" there lies with the system capacity down the road.

The new seismic building codes would only come into effect if the town opted to rehabilitate the facility.

"If you were to do substantial reconstruction, or add a second floor, you'd have to meet those new seismic codes, and that equals dollars," McCarty said.

McCarty said data for the number of fire calls received at the North Wilton station for a recent period "may not justify building of a completely new facility," meaning rehabilitation might be the better option.

That said, "One thing we know for sure is we need a facility in that area," McCarty added.

While "the responses in the area are pretty flat if not declining over the last few years," data for time it takes emergency personnel to respond to fires in North Wilton from the North Wilton station "mandate a location of a fire house in that area, both for EMS and for fire," McCarty said.

"That's where we are," McCarty said. "Having the water checked will lead us to getting the septic checked, and that will help us decide whether to rehabilitate the facility within the existing footprint, or to expand to accommodate additional facilities."

If the town were to attempt to rehabilitate the station, however, builders would need "to raise the doors. Apparatuses have gotten bigger. If we want to put new apparatuses in that facility, and make it serve for the next 20-30 years, those doors have to be raised. That can be done within the existing footprint, we believe, but we need to consult engineers," McCarty said.