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This presentation of the proposed design of the new Somersworth Fire Department station was given by Port One Architects, at 6pm on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

You can view a video of the entire presentations, including questions and answers, here:

Slideshow presentation file posted here:

Please view the full presentation above for full details — below are some key takeaways from this presentation.

Why do we need a new fire station?

Our current fire station was built to get us through for a time until we could build a long-term station. One notable vulnerability of the building is that it’s not rated to withstand even a moderate earthquake/seismic event. It also doesn’t have the recommended facilities to keep cancer-causing/hazardous materials and contaminated air separate from the admin/living quarters, which is a health concern for our first responders.

Where will it be?

As shown below, the new station will be in the same location of the current fire station. It will be built in phases to allow the current station to be used while part of the new building is constructed, then the operations can move to Phase 1 of the new building and final construction will complete the new station.

What’s it going to cost?

The current estimate, including “soft costs” (furnishings, etc.) comes in around $7,669,917. In questions from the council on the cost, the architect reminded us that this was in concept stage, so some costs might tighten up as we get closer to detailed schematics. He said, “Could we get it below $7M? I don’t know. We’d have to really work hard.”

Who created guidelines for this new station?

The current proposed design/concept is based on input from a Fire Station Advisory Committee, which in 2016 “looked at the current station deficiencies and proposed space programming suggestions,” and in 2018 conducted an analysis by MRI which “analyzed the current station, referenced several pertinent codes and conducted a response study with current resource deployment and incident analysis.”

Below is a summary of recommendations:

What’s with the “Hot Zone” design?

A significant part of this design is the Hot Zone element. This refers to areas that are more likely to be zones where contaminants and hazardous materials/air are likely to be — notably gear rooms and decontamination areas. Modern health and safety guidelines are to separate these zones — both physically and through entirely separate HVAC systems, etc. — from admin and living zones.

See below for color-coded view of the hot/warm/cool zones:

Color-coded layout showing Hot/Warm/Cool rooms in the proposed design

What about sustainable energy elements?

Councilor Vincent asked about sustainable energy/green energy elements. The architect said that while the narrative from Yeaton Associates did metnion “Potential Sustainable Options” including geothermal and solar elements, they didn’t include them in the current proposal since they would add more cost to an already costly proposal. It was discussed that grant moneys could be pursued from Eversource, Liberty Utilites, etc., as well as state and federal grants, but they hadn’t been directed to pursue them at this stage.

What’s next in this process?

The mayor assigned the Finance Committee to look at the financial details of the proposal and look at a schedule for the bond. The mayor also assigned the Public Safety Committee to review design components, including a potential Emergency Operations Center, which could qualify the project for an additional $140,000 in grant money.

I have thoughts/questions! How do I share them?

If you’d like to attend the committee meetings who will take up various parts of this project next, all committee meetings — and, of course, full City Council meetings — are public and you are welcome to attend:

If you cannot attend these meetings but have input to share, please contact me directly, and/or reach out to the mayor or other councilors.

We are open to any feedback throughout our process of refining/questioning/approving this project. We look forward to hearing from you!