Fire consultants: Add fourth station in northeast part of Smithfield

Fire consultants: Add fourth station in northeast part of Smithfield

A map showing the locations of three existing fire stations in Smithfield, as well as a proposed fourth station to be built in the area of Routes 116 and 7. “1” designates the department’s headquarters at 607 Putnam Pike; “2” is located at 66 Farnum Pike, and “3” is at 15 Log Road. The recommendation is included in a detailed report by Kramer & Associates Group.

SMITHFIELD – An outside consulting firm is suggesting that the town of Smithfield add a fourth fire station in the area of Routes 116 and 7 to service growing development near the Lincoln town line.

The recommendation is part of a 4- to 5-month feasibility study of the Smithfield Fire Department conducted by an outside consulting firm. Officials are hoping that the roughly 220-page document will serve as a “blueprint” for the department’s future.

With three existing fire stations located at 607 Putnam Pike, 66 Farnum Pike, and 15 Log Road, response times to southern parts of town are, on average, 4 to 6 minutes. But to areas in the north, especially in the northeast, which includes Bryant University, the average response time is closer to 11 or 12 minutes, Seltzer said.

In some instances in 2015, it took 15 or more minutes to respond to a call, according to a chart in the report. Seltzer told The Observer that those scenarios don’t happen often, but when they do “it’s definitely areas out toward the Lincoln/Smithfield line ... sometimes it’s because we’re out on other calls.”

Officials at the meeting estimated that, at $350 per square foot, a new station could cost about $6 million to build.

“They generated a good road map for the future,” Seltzer told The Valley Breeze & Observer Monday. “It gave us a good look at the department. I hope we follow the road map.

“That’s not to say that everything in there we are going to implement.”

The detailed report includes alternative options, such as moving the Log Road station to the area of Routes 116 and 7 or adding a fourth fire station at 661 Douglas Pike, where there is available land for sale.

An architect’s report on the current conditions of the three existing fire stations concludes that all stations, built between 1938 and 1960, are “overdue for upgrades and/or replacement.”

Deputy Chief Jim Grenga said, “You’ll never get a truly modern station out of any of them.”

Kramer & Associates Group, fire service consultants from Blue Ash, Ohio, were awarded $26,700 last spring to analyze the department.

The consultants spent a lot of time in Smithfield, sometimes going out on runs with firefighters and sleeping at the fire station, Seltzer said. “They got a good sense of what we do in the town of Smithfield.”

Bill Kramer, of Kramer & Associates Group, a retired fire chief and retired fire science professor, shared major findings and recommendations from the report at a presentation on Jan. 13 at the Smithfield Senior Center. About 40 people, mostly members of the Smithfield Fire Department, attended.

As Kramer noted in his report, fire department operations have been shifting toward offering more emergency medical services, as the demand to put out fires has decreased. Smithfield offers pre-hospital care at the Emergency Medical Technician – Cardiac and Paramedic levels, including ambulance transport services, according to the report.

“Smithfield is a great microcosm of fire service in general of adopting different things,” Kramer said.

The Town Council will be asked to approve a final version of the report in February, Seltzer told The Observer.

One of Kramer’s recommendations is to create a task force of individuals who will “thoroughly review the suggestions and implement as we can,” Seltzer said.

As part of the study, Architect Daniel Montgomery, of MSA Architects, toured the three fire stations and “found that none of them completely met the newer standards for use, safety, and training.”

He offered the department three suggestions for dealing with the existing stations: have the town budget $100,000 to $150,000 per year for the next five years to make needed repairs and fund maintenance projects; renovate and expand the Putnam Pike station, but replace the other two stations; or replace all three stations. He suggested the last option as “more cost effective” for the town in the long run.

Also included in the report is a recommendation to reorganize the department’s staffing structure by adding 24-hour on-duty chief officers, or battalion chiefs, which is something that Seltzer wants to accomplish “as soon as possible.”

“It’s time to reorganize and ... establish a better line of supervision so that we are moving forward in the future,” he said.

Kramer said that the department has a “good fleet” of vehicles, but did note that “maintenance costs are exceeding the budget.”

With a projected $5.2 million budget for fiscal year 2016, about 91 percent will go to payroll expenses, according to the report.

Whatever the town decides to do, “it has to be affordable,” Kramer said. “The town can only afford to spend so much money on fire protection,” he said, adding that town leaders have to balance resources between emergency services and other municipal services.


They have been talking about this for years?? It's been known for years that a facility has been needed in this area!! With all the studies they have had it could have already been built. Stop talking about it and build it!