Facilities Committee discusses DPW, Fire Station projects

Air quality in the Department of Public Works (DPW) buildings, Fire Station roof upgrades, and ways to incorporate facility maintenance in the town’s yearly budget planning were some of the topics touched on at the June 18 Municipal Facilities Committee (MFC) meeting. 

The MFC discussed the issue of air quality at the DPW. There is no ventilation air exchange system in the buildings, but there are large fans. Carlisle Facilities Manager Steve Bastek reported on the ongoing installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in the truck repair bay. The bay doors are frequently kept open, making it difficult for the detectors to consistently measure the CO levels, he said. There is no present way to automatically turn on the fans if CO is detected. Bastek said he turned up the volume on the detectors and told DPW Supervisor Gary Davis, “If you hear the alarm, get out of the building.” 

Bastek said that he is reaching out to an engineering company for a quote on a full air exchange system in the repair bay, which is separated from the truck storage bay. MFC member John Lavery said he previously received a quote of $25,000 for the system. He said he visited Concord’s DPW building and observed the pull-down exhaust hoses which attached to tailpipes. However, Davis told him he does not want hoses dangling from the ceiling or laid out on the floor. “I will check the DPW in Bedford,” Lavery said. 

MFC Chair Jerry Lerman asked for an update on the DPW septic system. Lavery said the committee should invite Davis in to review the septic site plan. The MFC plans to install an office trailer at the DPW to provide improved space for DPW staff, and Lerman said that Davis and Bastek will look at office trailers. 

Preventing Fire Station ice dams

To decrease ice accumulation on the roof edges at the Fire Station, a plan is in place to install roof heat wires or gutters, especially over the engine bay doors. Bastek reported that Fire Chief Bryan Sorrows is looking at records to determine the age of the roof. Bastek plans to use the ladder truck to get a look at the station roof and added, “I hope I’m not up there when the [fire] horn blows.” Lavery said that the cause of the icing problem was misidentified by TBA Architects in their town facilities report. He said the report recommended changing the roof drain, but the problem instead is at the edge of the roof. 

Lavery said that the cost to install roof edge melt wires will be higher than the $4,000 TBA originally estimated. “So, we will have to add some money for that.”

Bastek said that Sorrows has suggested using his own Fire Department personnel to do some simpler jobs at the station, rather than hire contractors. Bastek added that some firefighters are electricians. Lavery said that having Fire Department members do some of the work could free up funds for other projects at the station. Lerman said that some of the jobs on the MFC maintenance list are painting and caulking. 

“I think we need to have the Chief come in to explain what he wants to do,” said MFC member Kate Reid. Lerman suggested asking Sorrows to attend a meeting in July. 

How should MFC operate?

The committee started their discussion of how to get ahead of the budget planning for the town’s routine maintenance issues and larger facilities improvements. Lavery said that during the town’s budget planning there is a defined process that includes the Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee (FinCom) and the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee (LTC). The LTC also reviews departments’ needs, including maintenance and equipment replacement and upgrades, and each year brings a funding request to Town Meeting for a specific list of recommended capital projects. The LTC does not handle major building projects. 

Reid suggested there should be a discussion with the FinCom if requests for maintenance come directly to the MFC. 

Lerman said, “I think we should move it a step earlier.” He suggested the MFC should be involved yearly at the point at which the LTC and the FinCom send out requests for budget information. At that point, he said, the MFC should ask for input on maintenance requests. Lerman added, “Everything we need is expensive.” 

Lavery said that what they are really looking for is a scale of expenses or a set yearly budget. He also noted, “We don’t want to work [on a project] and then get turned down.” He used the DPW salt shed as an example of a requested project that was later turned down. 

Reid, who also chairs the Board of Selectmen, said that the MFC currently does not have early input in the financial decision-making process of their projects. “I’m trying to figure out the best way to efficiently work,” she said. 

Reid asked the committee what their work would look like if they had a yearly budget of $300,000 to $400,000. “Those building systems in imminent failure would be targeted first,” Lerman said. Reid said the town needs to be budgeting yearly maintenance for each building. Lerman said under that scenario, each year the town could expect $300,000 to $400,000 in maintenance costs, some of which need immediate attention. 

Lavery said, “The reality is our stuff doesn’t come in a predictable fashion.” Reid pointed out that they can calculate the money which will be needed to maintain new equipment. They decided to continue their discussion in the future.  ∆