Fire department given needed money for repairs, updates
The Portsmouth Fire Department should offer safer and more efficient operations soon with Portsmouth City Council's recent passage of a funding ordinance that will provide more than half a million dollars for repairs and updates.
The ordinance, providing for the issuance of $680,000 worth of Fire Department Improvement Notes, was passed at the council's May 27 meeting.
The council voted to suspend the rules calling for three readings of the ordinance at three separate meetings and passed it on first reading.
William Raison, who became chief of the department in early January, had told the council earlier in May, financing to pay for three projects was urgent.
The majority of the money - $510,000 - would go to replace a 1988 rescue truck and a 1979 pumper.
Raison, in his request for the money, said both vehicles were old, unreliable and poorly equipped.
"The safety and configuration of these vehicles is a serious safety concern for our personnel when responding to and operating at emergencies," the chief said.
The second project calls for shoring up the west wall at the central fire station. The wall is separating from the floor and from the ceiling, and "constantly growing worse over the last 15 years," Raison said.
It's not certain how much money it will take to repair the wall, but the cost could run as much as $100,000.
The third project involves communications in the Sciotoville and North Moreland areas.
Since the ice storm of 2003, Raison said, there have been times in both those areas where hand-held radios are unable to transmit, making it impossible to communicate with the central station, or even with fellow firefighters.
The problem largely is caused by the relocation of communications equipment to the Sunrise Avenue tower site, he said.
A consultant's recommendation is a new communication tower be installed in Sciotoville, and equipped with a simulcast repeater system. The tower would be built next to the city's water tower in Sciotoville.
The estimated cost is $95,000, but the department already has a $25,000 carry-over from the city's Capital Improvements Projects fund - leaving the cost at $70,000 to come from the new improvement notes provided by the council.