KEENE - Officials here have made significant progress toward finding a new home for the Keene Volunteer Fire Department.
The fire station, located just off state Route 73, was destroyed Aug. 28 when Tropical Storm Irene triggered major flooding of Gulf Brook. The rushing waters washed much of the structure away, leaving behind a portion of its frame and foundation.
A building committee tasked with overseeing construction of a new fire station held its third meeting Nov. 16. Additionally, the fire department has retained the services of Sean Foran, project manager with Syracuse-based construction firm Hueber Breuer, to help with the project.
The Keene firehouse is seen Aug. 29, the day after Tropical Storm Irene caused Gulf Brook to jump its banks and wash much of the firehouse away.
(Photo — Naj Wikoff)
The new station will be built at a different site, and the building committee has narrowed a field of eight possible locations down to two.
Keene Fire Chief Jody Whitney said officials have targeted May 2012 for the start of construction, with the goal of finishing the project by early spring 2013.
Whitney said in a news release that the new station must meet post-9/11 requirements as an "Essential Facility." Emergency facilities constructed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks must be built to be the "last structure standing" following natural or manmade disasters, like flooding or earthquakes. Foran said those requirements will impact the project's costs.
According to Whitney, the department has met with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to discuss damage reimbursements.
"We are also close to a final settlement on insurance coverage after several meetings with representatives of the Utica National Insurance group," Whitney said. "Unfortunately, the policy limits stop short of providing the resources the department will need to construct a new fire station under the requirements of the New York State Building Code."
Meanwhile, the fire department has applied for a Homeland Security grant to replace supplies and gear lost in the flood.
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.