Committees will meet to mull life safety complex


August 12, 2009
TILTON — When the Tilton-Northfield Fire Commission's Facilities Review Committee meets again they will be joined by members of the Life Safety Building Committee.

LSBC Chairman Ben LaBelle and Mike Robinson, committee member and deputy chief of the fire department, will present their computerized maps to the FRC. The maps are compilations of call data and drive times from the TNFD and the Tilton Police Department over the last five years.

"They (FRC members) haven't seen this data yet," LaBelle said. "Once they've seen it we hope they'll see the light. It's really quite interesting to see it all mapped out."

Both the Facilities Review Committee and the Life Safety Building Committee have been examining the needs of the Tilton-Northfield Fire District. The LSBC is hoping to build a joint complex for both the fire department and the Tilton Police Department, which has outgrown their current location. The newly formed FRC is not certain at this time that a complex of that nature is the route they will want to take for the future of the fire district. Central St. Station in Tilton, however, is a concern to many and relocation or reconstruction of the aging building may be necessary at some point.

"The conditions the firefighters have there are just deplorable," said Tilton Selectman and LSBC member Pat Consentino. "Something needs to be done about the living conditions there."

The LSBC would like to see a complex that would better serve both towns, especially the eastern section of Tilton where many calls originate. Legal issues on grants and other funding may arise, however, so they have hired an attorney to advise them. Consentino, working on the Legal Subcommittee, said they recently signed a letter of engagement with municipality attorney Dan Crean.

"We're going to use him as a consultant on the legalities of the feasibility of a Life Safety Complex," she said. "We're dealing with a department that's in two counties, and that could be an issue down the road."

The LSBC has begun to receive bids for an architect and will be narrowing down site selection for a building in the near future. Sub-committee's are researching designs that may be available through Housing and Urban Development along with grant feasibility. LaBelle said they hope to have a public hearing in late September where they can present their data and recommendations to the towns.

In the meantime, the LSBC is hoping that the Facilities Review Committee, comprised of the three fire district commissioners with Tilton Selectman Sandra Plessner and Northfield Selectmen David Bluhm, will agree that a joint complex is in the best interest of both towns.

"In the future we'll have a life safety building I think," LaBelle said. "How we arrive there is another thing. I'm definitely for it - it's worth fighting for. After they see the data we've seen I hope they'll really see the need."

The next meeting of the FRC is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Aug. 25 at the Tilton School's new academic building on School Street. Members of the LSBC will be on hand to share their data and the public is invited.

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