By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers and Councillor at Large Robert Haas are calling on the city to repair and re-open the Alden Mills Fire Station in the Point of Pines Neighborhood.
Powers is concerned about the increase in housing units, response times and the condition of the firehouses. Powers and Haas believe that a portion of new tax revenues from the new construction on Revere Beach Boulevard should go toward opening the station.
“There are 1,000 units running from the Shaw’s site to to the new development on the boulevard at The Beach House,” Powers said.
Powers said when the Mills family deeded that property where the present day Point of Pines Station is, to the city years ago there was a stipulation that the property be used for public safety only.
All three fire stations – Central on Broadway, the Freeman Street station off Route 1A and the Point of Pines Station — are in serious need of updating, cleaning and repairs. Stations on Revere Beach Parkway and Overlook Ridge are newer.
At the Central Station, which houses the ladder truck and is about 100 years old, storm damage from the tornado two years ago still lingers. The hose towers where hose is hung to dry leak at the Central and Point of Pines stations. There is water damage in several spots and the basement, where workout equipment is used has a musty, mildewy smell. Even Fire Chief Chris Bright questions the air quality in the basement.
“There’s a lot that has to be done,” said Powers.
Chief Chris Bright noted that all the construction going on is wood frame, which meets building codes, but does not bode well for fires.
“The community should say no to wood frame construction on these buildings,” Bright said, adding that response times are four to five minutes and that does not include the time it takes to go up an elevator. “In the Point of Pines area it can take a little longer.”
The last time the Central Fire Station was remodeled was in 1997 and windows were replaced after the tornado, as was the flag pole.
Both the Freeman Street station and the Point of Pines station have had problems with heat and that is being worked on.
At Point of Pines the station needs new, larger garage doors to fit the equipment. The back corner brick is pulling away from the side.
“The building is structurally unsound,” said Bright, adding that the building is used for a polling place and for Learn to Cope meetings.
The Revere Fire Department consists of 100 men and women, and right now six are out either sick or injured. Four new recruits will be sworn in on Nov. 14.
“We’ll gain one new firefighter per group,” Bright said, noting the department does 11,000 runs a year.
Back in 1986 there were 146 firefighters and five stations. To re-open the Point of Pines station Bright would have to hire 16 firefighters to cover four shifts with four firefighters. There were 28 layoffs in the early 1990s and two fire stations closed, including Beachmont and Point of Pines.
“We had more in the 1990s and there were 10,000 fewer residents,” Bright said.
Also at the Point of Pines Station is a 1935 ladder truck from York Beach, Maine. It runs but the body needs major work. Bright hopes someone will take it on as a project. The truck responded to the Oceanview Ballroom fire on Revere Beach.
“There’s no money to open Point of Pines yet, but it can be cleaned up,” he said standing in the kitchen with wet insulation, a leaky skylight and other debris hanging from the ceiling. “We have free cash that could be used for a one-time expenditure to open the Point of Pines station.”