By Seth Daniel
After a few delays in starting the historic renovation of the Engine 50 Fire House off the Training Field, this time the Boston Fire Department is ready to get things moving on the project – saying that on Aug. 1 they would move everyone out and get started.
“It’s going to be a total renovation of that firehouse – a $3.8 million budget,” said Steve MacDonald of the Boston Fire. “We’re going to move the company out on Aug. 1 and they will be stationed at Engine 32 in Sullivan Square for one year while the project is ongoing.”
The historic Engine 50 has a long history and is the oldest working firehouse in the nation, and is a popular tourist stopping point as it is on the Freedom Trail and very visible. Meanwhile, the firehouse also has significance to the Town as it was fought for with heated protest many decades ago when the City wanted to close it down.
The renovation, however, signals that the firehouse isn’t going anywhere for some time.
“After one year, it will be a beautiful firehouse that, for all intents and purposes, be brand new and be there for many years to come,” he said.
Most of the visible work will be on the outside facade where they will re-point the brickwork from top to bottom and replace all the windows and doors. For functionality, the doorways for the fire trucks will be taken down, widened by one foot each and then replaced exactly as they were, but wider. Two old flag poles that were taken down a few years ago will also be re-mounted above the doorways.
In the back parking lot, there will be work done on the sewer – which is collapsing and needs to be rebuilt. That will be followed by a reconstruction of the parking lot.
However, the bulk of the work will be inside the station, where the arrangement is outdated and in need of a better layout. For instance, right now the kitchen abuts the back end of the fire trucks on the first floor, and it isn’t a very good working situation. That will all be changed.
“The idea will be to get the kitchen as far away from the gear and trucks as possible, so we’ll move it up to the third floor,” he said.
After the renovations, the first floor will have gear lockers, washing machines and the apparatus. The second floor will have lockers, restrooms, showers and the bunk house. The third floor will now have the kitchen, a study room and a brand new workout room.
Additionally, there will be all new plumbing, heating systems, electrical and fire alarms.
As for the coverage in fire service, some have been worried that moving the Engine 50 group to Sullivan Square could create lag times at fire incidents, especially in light of the huge fires that occurred in the last year on Bunker Hill Street, right in the coverage area of Engine 50.
MacDonald said they are following a coverage plan they used in Brighton a few years ago .
when the renovated a station there. During the 13-month renovation, they moved two miles away and still didn’t suffer any changes to response times.
“If someone calls and reports a big fire, we have engines coming from four different firehouses at all times on the initial call,” he said.