The Pocasset Fire Station on Barlow’s Landing Road will soon be vacated indefinitely. The building has been deemed unsafe to house either firefighters or the department’s emergency vehicles.
Bourne Fire Chief David S. Cody made the announcement of Station 4’s closing during the Bourne Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday, September 21. Chief Cody said the primary concern with the building is the floor on which the department’s emergency vehicles—fire trucks, ambulances, et cetera—are parked.
An engineering firm was brought in to survey the floor, the chief said, and they found it is not suitable for the department’s vehicles. The floor, which sits above a basement meeting room, cannot hold the department’s apparatus, he said. As a result, vehicles have been parked outside the building, he said.
“It’s not only imperative to get vehicles in when it’s cold,” he said, “it’s required by state regulations.”
Chief Cody noted that the Pocasset station was built in 1947. The situation involving the garage floor, he said, means moving all Station 4 operations to the call fire station on Thomas Philbrick Road in Monument Beach, which was built in 1920.
The operational move to the Monument Beach station will require bringing in emergency temporary housing—in essence, a mobile home—for firefighters assigned to Station 4. The temporary housing is necessary, Chief Cody said, because the call station is not habitable.
“We’re going to be setting it up next to the station,” the chief said. “I’ve been working closely with the facilities and inspections department to make sure that this goes smoothly.”
Chief Cody added that he has also been working with people at the Emergency Communications Center with the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office on Joint Base Cape Cod “to make sure there are no issues” with the Bourne department’s response to emergency situations.
Chief Cody projected that the trailer will be moved into place on Monday, October 4, and it will be fully operational by Friday, October 15. He did not say how much he anticipates rental of the mobile facility will cost or how long he expects it will be needed. Calls to the chief for additional comment for this article were unsuccessful before deadline.
Chief Cody’s announcement came during the public comment period of the selectmen’s meeting, so board members were not allowed, under the Open Meeting Law, to ask any questions or comment on the situation. The day after the meeting, Chairman Peter J. Meier said, “it’s a situation that’s dire, and unfortunately it had to be done.”
“It’s to make sure that our firefighters, paramedics and EMTs were in a safe environment,” Mr. Meier said. “This move will not compromise public safety at all. In fact, it’s the opposite. Our equipment will be sheltered, and the living quarters will be new.”
Mr. Meier added that the cost of renting the mobile home is justifiable in the interest of public safety, and given the anticipated expenditure of funds, to have a new south side fire station built.
“Fiscally, why put money into an old building that ultimately will be mothballed once the new replacement station is built,” he said. “It shows fiscal restraint and the best use of the public’s money.”
News of the compromised garage floor at the Pocasset station was brought to the attention of the selectmen by Assistant Town Administrator Glenn D. Cannon during the board’s meeting on September 7. Mr. Cannon informed the board at that time of the inability to park department vehicles in the garage.
Mr. Cannon said a structural engineer was hired to inspect the floor and beams above the basement. The basement of the Pocasset station has been used by various public groups to hold meetings, he said.
The structural engineer determined that the floor and beams cannot support the weight of the department’s vehicles and advised that emergency apparatus not be parked inside the garage, Mr. Cannon said.
Mr. Cannon said multiple contractors have been contacted about a possible solution to the problems at the Pocasset station. Suggestions for how to mitigate the problem, he said, will be brought back to the selectmen to make a decision on how best to move forward.
The situation involving the Pocasset station makes more imperative the work of the South Side Fire Station Feasibility and Design Building Committee. The group was formed in 2017 and charged with advising the town administrator and the selectmen on the “design, siting and feasibility of a new replacement fire/EMS station on the south side of the Cape Cod Canal.”
The major stumbling block for the group has been securing a location for the new station. A subcommittee of the south side fire station committee recently drafted a request for proposal in an attempt to acquire the necessary land.
The town is looking to acquire three to five acres for the station, with 5 acres being optimal given possible future expansion of the building. The ideal location would be between Waterhouse Road and Barlow’s Landing Road, and Shore Road and MacArthur Boulevard.
The RFP was sent to five or six land owners, and the town is waiting to hear back from them. It has also been sent to a number or realtors, Mr. Cannon said. At one time, it appeared that a parcel of county-owned land would be good for the project, but too many restrictions have emerged to make that land feasible, he said.