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North Suburban News

Inaction Led to Woburn Fire Stations Falling into Disrepair

Feb 21, 2019 05:45PM ● By Dan Marra

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WOBURN – Woburn firefighters have become increasingly frustrated with the poor conditions of the fire stations stations and are asking the city to fix the growing issues surrounding these buildings. But these leaks, structural concerns, and rodent issues are nothing new.   

Six years ago Woburn retained Municipal Resources Inc. (MRI) to do a comprehensive study of the entire fire department and emergency services in the city. Many of the concerns raised in the 2013 report are the same issues the Woburn Fire Department deals with currently, and so it is unclear if the city took any action on the recommendations suggested by that study.

The report, which North Suburban News reviewed, credits the city of Woburn’s fire department, but is critical of its facilities, stating that “the existing Woburn fire stations are generally small, are in need of significant repairs and upgrades, and do not adequately serve the needs of the fire department or the community.”

But while that 2013 report had suggestions for repairs at all the city’s departments, it was Woburn’s oldest building located at 654 Main Street, otherwise known as Station 3, that the report was most critical of.

“Overall this station is in poor condition,” the report reads. “Due to its age, location, and limitations to any type of expansion/addition, it is our opinion that it would not be economically feasible to attempt to renovate and/or upgrade this facility…the replacement of this facility should be a high priority for the city.”

Additionally, the MRI report cited mold found in Station 3 and recommended the city look to consolidate fire stations, while at the same time, it should find a location to build a new fire station.

The city and the mayor’s office did not return multiple requests for comment, and so it is unclear what recommendations from the 2013 report the city has undertaken to remedy MRI’s concerns.

According to Brian McLaughlin, union president for the Woburn Fire Department, the city just recently allocated $400,000 to a study looking at the prospect of building a new station, but the issues at Station 3 have only gotten worse since that 2013 study. According to McLaughlin, there are cracks in the building, mold continues to grow and every time it rains, water leaks through the ceiling. 

In its harshest criticism, the city-funded study states, “the reality is that the condition, location, and operational effectiveness of the city's fire stations have been neglected for many years and can no longer be ignored or pushed off to a future budget cycle. The community has grown significantly, and the fire protection challenges have changed dramatically. There are immediate needs, including serious life safety and fire code issues that must be addressed as soon as possible.”

McLaughlin expressed frustration with the current administration and its unwillingness to address the issues facing the facility. According to McLaughlin, Station 3 has a rodent infestation, numerous water leaks, problems with mold, electrical issues, along with a litany of other issues.

“The Woburn Firefighters Association Local 971 will continue to protect and serve the citizens of Woburn despite the conditions of the buildings,” McLaughlin said. “Every member of our department takes great pride in their job and this profession. The members of Local 971 feel as though we have been neglected for far too long and are now looking to the citizens we have sworn to protect to help make us a better dept.”

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