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Life safety committee steams ahead through the summer months

Ben LaBelle, chairman of the Life Safety Building Committee, explains a map developed by Hannaford Supermarket's Research Department showing call data for emergency services in the Tilton-Northfield area. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
July 15, 2009
TILTON — The Life Safety Building Committee is gathering hard data, particularly surrounding emergency calls, to help it determine the best location for a police station, and potentially a fire station.

Summer vacations and scheduling conflicts made it difficult to gather a quorum, but the committee managed to conduct as much business as possible last week despite missing committee members.

Chairman Ben LaBelle presented a sample of the computer maps that Hannaford's Research department has put together with data provided by the fire and police departments.

Maps of the Tilton and Northfield show the call history for the Tilton-Northfield Fire Department over the past five years. Tilton Police are still gathering information on their calls for the same time period but were able to provide their call history for the past year so that the committee can begin to see where the highest volume of calls originate from.

LaBelle explained that there is still some "tweaking" to be done on the mapping but the committee can begin to examine areas where the greatest activity for both departments occurs.

"This doesn't reflect multiple calls to a location yet," he said.

Changes are being developed to show frequent calls for addresses such as the schools, an apartment complex or the N.H. Veteran's Home, which all may have multiple calls over the years.

Committee member Vince Paratore said he was impressed to see what Hannaford's has done so far with the data they were given. Pointing out sections of town with many dots depicting calls for service, he suggested that adding the zones the committee has laid out in the two towns would provide even more valuable information as they seek a new location for a police station and possibly a Life Safety Complex to include a new fire station.

"This is great though," Paratore said. "This is going to be a huge thing to show the public."

Maps showing "drive times" to each section of the two towns provides valuable information as well as the committee looks for the optimal location for a facility that can serve the two towns most effectively.

LaBelle commended the fire, police and Hannaford's Research for the hours of work that have gone into creating the graphic outlay.

"Seeing this may (data) may change your opinions, or it may not," LaBelle said, referring to site selections.

Dick Montembeault reported he had contacted Housing and Urban Development in Washington D.C. recently. HUD has plans and designs available on hundreds of similar buildings across the country and might be able to provide them with some design ideas for a police or life safety building.

"I gave them some ideas of what we had in mind," he told the committee, "some of our criteria. They have a format they can adapt to what you need."

Plans obtained through HUD are free of charge and Paratore felt that this could also be useful in seeking grants for construction. Montembeault hopes to hear back from them in the near future with their findings.

Committee member Pat Consentino displayed newly obtained flood plain maps. As the committee nears a site selection, these maps brought some surprises. Locations that might or might not be adversely affected by flooding will help narrow their search. Paratore volunteered to scan these maps and put them into a computer graphic for easier analysis.

The committee also discussed the formation of sub-committees to begin preparing for public hearings and construction. Grant Sourcing, Design/Construction, Legal, and Media/Communications committees were agreed upon by the group. To form these committees they hope to get more people involved while also including members of the police and fire departments for their input and expertise.

Consentino suggested that citizens who had asked to be involved earlier be contacted about joining a sub-committee. Members of these sub-committees will be charged with gathering the necessary information and reporting back to the larger LSBC for final determinations. People with special skills, such as grant writing, engineering or architecture, willing to donate their time to a sub-committee, LaBelle said, would be especially helpful. Anyone willing to particpate on any of the sub-committees is encouraged to contact the Life Safety Building Committee through the Tilton Town offices.

Martin Lord Osman
Tilton School
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