$13.9 million fire station tops Onset Fire District agenda

By Matthew Bernat | May 11, 2017
Onset Fire officials are proposing a new $13.9 million station off of Sand Pond Road. Voters will have their say at the district's annual meeting, set for May 15.

The Onset Fire District annual meeting is set for Monday, May 15 and the largest item on the agenda – in size and cost – is a $13.9 million request to build a new fire station on Sand Pond Road.

“If we’re going to rebuild, let’s do this the right way,” said Prudential Committee member Marcine Fernandes. “We need a station that’s going to last for 50 to 75 years. We need to build for the future and that’s what these plans do.”

According to fire officials, the department has outgrown its current quarters on East Central Avenue. The new station is being proposed for a town-owned plot of land on Sand Pond Road, located across the street from the Onset Water Department.

Plans call for a two-story building with space to house the department’s nine vehicles under one roof. New bunks, space for training exercises, a fitness area, space for equipment storage and a community room able to fit 100 people are included, too.

If approved, the station would cost residents an additional $1.44 per $1,000 of assessed home value for a 20-year loan or $1.19 per $1,000 assessed value for a 30-year loan. For home valued at $250,000, those would be $360 and $297 annual increases, respectively.

Less costly requests from the fire department include a $25,000 transfer from the district’s free cash account to purchase protective gear and clothing for firefighters.

Onset Fire Department Chief Ray Goodwin said a grant received in 2010 helped purchase a large amount of gear, but now the equipment requires replacement.

“A large amount of our gear is past its functional life and we trying to replace a large chunk of it,” said Goodwin. “That’s coats, pants, helmets – everything a firefighter needs.”

Officials are seeking a $40,000 transfer from the new vehicle account to replace a car 10, a Chevrolet Tahoe used by the shift commander and for medical calls.

“It’s starting to have mechanical issues and it’s time to trade it in,” said Goodwin.

Other financial articles on the agenda include a request to appropriate $160,000 for the debt and interest on the department’s ladder truck, which was purchased in 2014 for $760,000.

Voters will be asked to spend a total of $256,675 for the salaries of the Board of Engineers, three permanent firefighters on the department.

The chief engineer is set to receive a $94,010 salary, up $12,266 from last year. One assistant engineer is set to earn $81,332, up $1,594 from last year and another assistant will earn $81,332, up $2,533 from last year.

There is a $799,846 request to cover the payroll costs for all firefighters on the department. An article seeking funds for several fire department operating budgets is down $15,000 compared to last year.

The department is requesting a total of $167,500 for accounts such as: training/testing, radios, firefighter health and wellness, apparatus repair and more.

Voters are also being asked to approve a total of $905,500 or expenses related to district insurance, meetings and elections, legal fees, clerk-treasurer general expenses and other costs. That number is up $87,100 from last year, mostly driven by medical insurance hikes.

The Fire District meeting will be held in the Dudley L. Brown Post VFW in Onset, 4 Gibbs Ball Park Road starting at 7:30 p.m. on May 15. All registered voters living in the Onset Water District may participate.

Comments (17)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 11, 2017 08:23

How much was the assistant to the assistants, assistants raise? How much more of a swollen bag of waste do these districts need to get before there is no one left in Wareham that can afford to be here. They have zero concern for the taxpayers in this Town, ZERO!

Posted by: Doctor Deekas | May 11, 2017 09:46

How have we outgrown the current building? There are only 2000 customers in the Onset District, it hasn't expanded. Perhaps the calls have expanded, but here's a novel idea - there's another great Fire District next door a few miles up the road called 'Wareham'. Maybe Onset could contract the extra calls out to that District and it would be peanuts to building a new station. It's sort of like 'mutual aid'. After all, between the 30 or so vehicles in both Districts, 10 full-timers, and 80-100 volunteers, one might think they could get some type of coverage in an Onset emergency if it was needed. While it may be a shame that Onset can't garage all NINE firefighting vehicles (and still running the older replaced vehicles that were supposed to be auctioned off), this is just ridiculous to 2000 ratepayers!! Voters must stop this! We have another District that can help, even if they need to be paid for it.

Posted by: cranky pants | May 11, 2017 15:07

I still want to know what the exorbitant price of upgrading the current station would cost...

Get out of the clouds, quit your ego and stay out of my wallet.

Posted by: berealistic | May 11, 2017 15:52

The nasty and combative posts are ridiculous.

Sphere, You know that the majority of the first responders in both WFD and OFD are members of the community? Call members who give up their own time to train and respond when their neighbors are in need. What better example of being concerned for their town?

Doctor Deekas, Where are your facts? You say that the departments are still running older vehicles which were supposed to be replaced. What evidence do you have of that?

Combining the districts aside, the town most likely needs three fully staffed 24/7 fire stations. Simply stating that the downtown station can cover the whole town is not realistic. If you think one fire station can adequately cover calls in Onset to the Bourne line and out West Wareham, think again.

Your home owners insurance factors in fire station locations into your premium. How would you feel if you had an emergency and help was 10 plus minutes away on the other side of town?

Chief Goodwin has done a great job explaining the need for a new station to his community. Yes the cost is high but how about joining the building committee or attending district meetings instead of whining an complaining?

How many have ever spent a day with our first responders or gone to the station an asked to see the run logs? A previous comment on a another thread said that runs were "made up". What proof do you have? Get involved instead of trolling. This is your community and your neighbors who are providing this service to you. Show some respect and be supportive. Whether you vote to authorize the spending or not, at least be civilized to those who put your needs ahead of theirs.

Posted by: cranky pants | May 11, 2017 16:45

I don't think any of the above posts were personal or disrespectful to any of our first responders... so don't try to put it on them.

I'll be the first to shake hands and thank each man and woman who put their lives on hold to save the lives and offer services for the people of our community...

I'm just not into endless spending and inflated ideas, and if you are then please step up and pay double.

Posted by: berealistic | May 11, 2017 18:54

Please Cranky Pants. Go look at the comments for ANY article here about spending for the fire departments and tell me there are not negative and nasty comments. Even the articles about actual incidents take on a negative tone.

Yes, spending is something we all should be concerned about but the simple truth is that the current station has been outgrown.

And for those that say the ladder truck is too big and should have been smaller; go look at any surrounding fire department and see how big their ladder trucks are: www.capecodfd.com

Rigs are bigger because they need to be. The mission and tools of fire fighting have evolved. Anyone who says that they could spec out a smaller truck to fit in the current station doesn't know what they are talking about. At least not in the specifics which pertain to this department and this building.

Is $13 million too much? Maybe but where were all of you when public hearings and informational meetings were being held?


Posted by: cranky pants | May 11, 2017 22:37

I feel the department should get the new vehicles and all the newest and safest gear possible, I'll always vote to spend money on safety. If one truck costs 3 million I'd vote yes... What's the cost of one life  ?

I'm not for hasty spending. I'm a shopper, I'll get three or four estimates on home repair.  I don't want to sound like I'm not for an updated fire station. I'm just not feeling the 14 million dollar price punch knowing other fire stations that are within a 60 mile radius have been built far cheaper.

Show us the alternative costs, or are we the scattered public supposed to provide viable solutions ?

Posted by: Doctor Deekas | May 12, 2017 09:55

Before you start berating posters ,'berealistic', just try to see the issue from this point of view. Not EVERYONE can be on the building committee, there are only so many spots. Not everyone can make daytime meetings when they are at work to provide input or direction. Yes, there are trucks that are too big for the Onset Station, that's true. Could we spec a small truck to fit in there? Maybe, but we probably wouldn't be happy with the ladder length I'm guessing. As it is, the new truck has a 5 foot shorter ladder than the old. Yes, I have seen the old trucks such as Engine 1 and 2 at the Sand Pond Rd building, housed in the garage. One of them was supposed to be auctioned and instead the Fire Dept. fixed up the side cabinets and restored it a little bit, and uses it in an emergency for an extra vehicle. The 'old' ladder truck is parked under a canopy next to the Fire Station and still hasn't been auctioned.
As for thinking outside the box, since Wareham was looking for a new fire station too, why don't you guys consider combining? Fit everything and do it once. Onset taxpayers are going to fund a new HQ and then Wareham will too? The Fire Districts have gone too far. Safety is important, but so is PAYING for that safety. There are many senior citizens in our Town that just can't get a $250-350 rate hike; Social Security won't even go up that much this year. It's time to start looking at combining and better mutual aid, even paying Wareham to help out. There are enough trucks and people in our collective Town to do that. Let's 'be realistic'.

Posted by: cranky pants | May 12, 2017 19:19

Well said Doc

Posted by: Steve Holmes | May 13, 2017 06:00

Lets see, a huge piece of land, kind of central to Wareham and onset, not being used and has already cost us millions. Do it right build an Emergency Services Center for Police, Fire, and Ambulance departments. Keep a couple of sub stations and sell off the rest of the properties.

Posted by: Mike | May 13, 2017 06:13

If the stationssss in Onset are out dated Is there anything in any of the articles to sell that property or are they going to be alright to use after we get the $14,000,000 New station?

Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | May 13, 2017 15:50

one Wareham one Department...



Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 13, 2017 18:52

Steve, I agree 100%. We need One public safety building that houses everything. Fire department, Police, Harbormaser, Amulance. All together in a building where coordination will be easy and efficient. Keep a building in Onset and West Wareham but everything else goes. All departments will share the outpost buildings  Water departments and Sewer will fall under DPW. Duplicate equipment is gone as is duplication management and support. Having all this duplication in labor, buildings and equipment is just plain dumb. There is no reason to build a new Onset fire station, none.

Posted by: Chaka | May 13, 2017 23:42

Please come out Monday night to the VFW and vote NO. If you don't, they will stack the meeting and we will get stuck paying for it. Please show up, it's really important.


Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | May 14, 2017 10:19

Why won't they combine  people ask ? It's called EGO's nobody wants to take orders from someone new ..

Posted by: Dick Paulsen | May 14, 2017 16:25

Ever curious, let  me ask two questions, both interrelated.


How many fire calls-not false alarms, not backups for EMS-were made in  2016, for both Onset and Wareham?


And what has been the trend, that is, what were the comparable numbers for 2013, 2014 and 2015?


Posted by: OnsetTogether | Mar 06, 2018 21:18


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