CHESHIRE, Mass. — Firefighters are always ready to face the heat but their station's malfunctioning boiler and its antiquated parts is leaving them cold.
Fire Chief Thomas Francesconi told the Selectmen last week that he is struggling with two broken circulator pumps leaving no heat in the apparatus bay and in the kitchen.
"I have a feeling we are going to be chasing this throughout the winter. The boiler has been an issue for us for a long time," he said. "We just keep repairing the circulator pumps and unfortunately they don't make those pumps anymore."
The lack of heat in the apparatus bay is the main concern because the engines do contain water. If the water within the fire engines were to freeze, they could be damaged.
Francesconi said they had to grapple with this problem immediately after finding there was no heat in the bay for two days. He said it was 48 degrees inside.
Worse, the problem was not discovered on a business day so the department had to wait an additional day to order parts to repair the pumps as much as possible.
Francesconi said they opened the meeting room doors where the heat worked and was able to get the bay temperature up to 52 degrees.
"We got it up to 52 degrees for two days so that was good enough," he said. "We didn't have any freezing problems."
After correcting the problem, he said they found that the kitchen circulator pump was also broken and there was no heat in the kitchen. To avoid pipes freezing, they opened more interior doors.
Francesconi said the system was from the old State Police barracks in Pittsfield and that Cheshire was given the system in the late 1980s.
"It has some history behind it," he said. "We are kind of running circles around it trying to keep the heat on."
Francesconi said the system otherwise works well and could only recall one other issue within the system not related to the circulator pumps. He said the pumps appear to be the only substantial issue.
However, these pumps are no longer made. Optimally, the system needs to be upgraded instead of "limping along," he said.
He was under the impression that the town planned to use Green Communities money to replace the system but recently learned this will not be happening any time soon.
Francesconi said the plumber plans to survey the system and provide the department with some other options.
He had more bad news — the department was unsuccessful in securing a grant for a new brush truck.
The current model is a 1984 military surplus vehicle that will have to be decommissioned.
"It is just to the point where I don't want to dump any more money into it," he said. "We will be upside down in it so that is going out of service in the springtime."
Francesconi said there are plans to have the Engine 2 pump repaired. He said this should be up and running by springtime when brush fires are more prominent.
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