Nobody denies the town of Winthrop needs a new fire and police station, and now the fire chief has the funds to have a needs assessment done for both fire and police.
“The question is not do we need a station, but where to put it,” said Fire Chief Paul Flanagan, adding the study will show whether they need to have two buildings or one. “Our goal is to have everyone in one fire house.”
Current station on Pauline Street was built in 1887 for approximately $10,000 and cannot accommodate today’s modern fire trucks, especially when other communities supply Winthrop with mutual aid. The beach fire house on Shirley Street was built in 1904 for $12,000.
Back then firefighters ran horses with steam engines and coverage of the town depended on the strength of the horse.
“They did get their monies worth out of them,” Flanagan said, adding that the biggest improvements made to the station were concrete floors. “When we order new equipment we can’t order anything over 9 feet, 4-inches. Most trucks now are 10 feet high so that presents a problem.”
If Winthrop did decide to do a public safety facility it would be one building for the fire station and the police department. One of the closest towns to do this is Saugus.
If a new station was built in the center of town, the longest run would be about a mile.
Initially $25,000 was appropriated by former Town Manager James McKenna just for a feasibility study to be conducted. When this request went out to bid five firms responded with the lowest bid of $46,000 by K&B architectural firm.
“We’re probably going to find out that a combined building with a training room and possibly a public meeting room in it. We’re also talking about a private bay for the ambulance, which could be up to $60,000 in rent to help pay the debt on it,” Flanagan said. “In the future fire departments we will all be running our own ambulance.” Where could a public facility building be placed? There is the old middle school site on Pauline Street. “We’re not in any competition with anyone trying develop the site,” Flanagan said. “We want what’s best for Winthrop, but we also don’t want to rule out a public safety building could be best.”
Putting the station in any other part of town could end up with some real estate deals being needed, Flanagan said.