The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 3, 2009

Town Center cistern planned for fall

Fire Chief Flannery reported on installation of a cistern at the fire station at the June 23 Board of Selectmen meeting. A 40,000 gallon cistern is planned that will serve the Town Center and provide improved fire safety.

Availability of water in case of fire is a major concern in Carlisle due to the lack of public water. Flannery reported that cisterns have been required for the past 30 years for any new developments, and 33 have been installed by developers with a 34th going in at Hanover Hill. However, there are ten areas without cisterns, and in May 2006, Town Meeting voted $200,000 to install two of the eventually planned ten. Since then, Oak Knoll was installed for $139,000, a higher cost than expected due to ledge. Town Meeting last year approved an additional $60,000 to complete the second cistern at the fire station.

“This is an important investment for the town,” said Flannery. He pointed to past Town Center fires, including one that burned down the First Meeting House in 1810, one that destroyed the store at the location of Ferns in 1879, and another that burned down the rebuilt store in 1925. Were a fire to occur now in the center, the Church Street water hole or cistern at Rocky Point would be the closest water sources, and the tanker truck holds only 6,000 gallons. A second tanker is in the long range plans, but currently the town relies on mutual aid if a second truck is needed. Flannery noted this may mean a 20 or 30 minute delay with traffic.

Because there are wetlands at the fire station, a filing will be made with the Conservation Commission, and the project is also within the historic district. It is hoped the project will be able to go out to bid later in the summer for completion before freezing weather sets in. This installation will be much less expensive than the first because there is a well and electric box already on site. There will also be less visual impact because the meter can be placed inside the building. The standard cistern size is 30,000 gallons, but a larger one is being constructed because the closeness of buildings in the center heightens fire risk.

Currently, Carlisle homeowners pay more in insurance because of a high risk rating by the Insurance Service Office. The current rating of nine out of 1tenmight be reduced with added cisterns. “We’re unlikely to see a five or six,” said Flannery, but a reevaluation at eight would mean slightly lower rates for homeowners, perhaps 10% per year. Some residents now pay as much as $10,000 for fire insurance.

Flannery said he has contacted ISO with details of upgrades to Carlisle’s fire safety, including cisterns, training, and new equipment. A reevaluation occurs rarely and involves on-site review of operations and confirmation that the department has the ability to deliver 500 gallons of water per minute for 20 minutes. Doug Stevenson observed that a 10% reduction in fire insurance over 1,700 households could make the cisterns cost effective as well as improving safety.

Flannery noted that an area of future concern is maintenance of older cisterns. He will provide an update on the cistern project once the contract is complete. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito