Problems continue to mount for the Bourne Fire Department’s station on Barlow’s Landing Road in Pocasset. The troubled structure has been so compromised that emergency vehicles can no longer be parked in the garage area above the building’s basement.
Assistant Town Administrator Glenn D. Cannon gave the news to the Bourne Board of Selectmen during its meeting on Tuesday, September 7. Mr. Cannon told the board that, following concerns expressed by firefighters, a structural engineer was hired to inspect the floor and beams above the basement.
Mr. Cannon pointed out to the board that the basement of the Pocasset station has been used by various groups to hold meetings. He said it has been determined that the floor and beams cannot support the weight of the department’s vehicles.
“The structural engineer advised us not to park equipment over the full basement,” he said, “so if you go by the Pocasset fire station right now, you’ll see that there is actually an engine parked outside.”
Additional vehicles, Mr. Cannon said, are parked on the portion of the building that is built on a concrete slab with nothing underneath.
Mr. Cannon said the town is “taking action to correct this.” He said multiple contractors have been contacted about a possible solution. 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 Pocasset fire station is one of two fire department facilities that would be replaced with a new fire station that is being proposed for south of the Cape Cod Canal. The other station that would be replaced is the call fire station on Thomas Philbrick Road in Monument Beach.
Problems with the floor in the Pocasset station have been reported as recently as 2018. Fire officials admitted that water had done so much damage to the floor, the department was limited in how much weight could be placed on it.
The building has a frequent flooding problem. A cistern, or underground water collection tank, behind the station becomes so full that a steady stream of water can flow from the station property into a neighboring parking lot. A sump pump has to run constantly to keep the building’s basement dry.
The Monument Beach fire station dates back to the early part of the 20th century. It lacks adequate room to fit the department’s modern trucks, engines and ambulances. It also lacks a ventilation system that would allow exhaust to be vented directly from a vehicle rather than to gather inside the station and jeopardize the health of firefighters.
A partial renovation was undertaken in the 1990s, but because the station is primarily unmanned, and the goal has been to consolidate the two southside stations into one, the decision was made not to invest more money in finishing the renovations.
The South Side Fire Station Feasibility and Design Building Committee was established in 2017. The group was charged with advising the Town Administrator and Bourne Board of 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 3 to 5 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.
“We do need to get this project moving,” he said.
Board chairman Peter J. Meier said that if the RFP does not prove fruitful, and the south side fire station committee is unsuccessful in procuring a parcel, the final option would be going to Town Meeting and taking property by eminent domain.
“Nobody likes that,” Mr. Meier said, “but for the public safety of the residents and the property owners in that area, we have to do what’s in the best interest of the town. I don’t want to have that conversation unless we have to.”