The Greenville Fire District is in the midst of $300,000 worth of capital improvements according to fire district commissioner Michael Rappe. The improvements include roof work, upgrades to the apparatus bay and electrical work.

The fire district began its latest stretch of capital improvements in 2016, almost three decades after the previous round of major construction projects.

The last time fire district headquarters underwent significant enhancements was in 1990.

According to Rappe, who sits on the fire district’s Building Committee with fellow commissioner Warren Hershkowitz, fire Chief Daniel Raftery and fire district treasurer Lisa Dinon, the 1990 project was an addition to the north side of the headquarters apparatus bay.

In 2016, the fire district met with Fuller and D’Angelo architects, a company that has done work for the Edgemont School District, to have it complete a full building evaluation.

Since then, Rappe said, the fire district has been completing capital improvements in accordance with the suggested plan.

From 2016 to 2017, the fire district had upgrades made to the roof. In addition, in the 2016 budget, the public approved the purchse of a new ladder truck.

Rappe said the fire district worked with Thorton Tomasetti, a structural engineering firm, to make sure the apparatus bay could fit both the truck’s height and weight. Rappe said, if the apparatus bay isn’t adequate, the ladder truck may be too tall for the bay or the bay floor may begin to crack because it can’t hold the truck’s weight.

Thorton Tomasetti felt the apparatus bay was efficient after completing its own structural analysis.

The fire district is also currently replacing “inefficient HVAC units with high efficient models,” Rappe said.

Also, he added, the district is almost finished with a project replacing its old underground fuel tank. Rappe said the fuel tank was not leaking but, instead of waiting for that to happen, the district decided to remove the underground tank and replace it with an overground one.

According to Rappe, best practices now indicate storing a fuel tank underground is no longer acceptable because of the possibility for underground oil leaks.

He said the tank removal and replacement is now “98 percent complete.” The fire district is only waiting on approval from the county.

A major portion of the capital improvements include electrical upgrades, which Rappe said will be split into three phases.

The first phase, Rappe said, will be replacing older exterior lighting with new LED light fixtures. He said this would “lead to a safer work environment” and improve cost savings on utility bills.

The second and third phases will shift focus more on interior lighting. Rappe said some LED upgrades have already been completed in the chief’s office, the appartus bay floor, in the conference room and in some public hallways.

The second and third phases also call for replacement of some of the building’s older doors and replacing windows to high efficient argon gas units.

According to a July 2017 article in The Balance, a small business website, argon gas windows minimize heat exchange through the window, won’t corrode the window material like oxygen does and will improve heating and cooling systems.

According to Rappe, the improvements made from inefficient lights and HVAC units to more efficient models are in the interest of costs savings and being more environmentally friendly.

“We’re certainly conscious of our environmental footprint,” Rappe said. “We’re trying to be as cost efficient as we can be.”

Rappe said he would hope the projects are completed by 2019 but feels it’s possible they’ll be completed in 2020.

Since the fire district bonded the $300,000, The Inquirer asked Rappe what happens with the debt service if Edgemont incorporates and the fire district becomes the Edgemont Fire Department.

Rappe said the fire district has remained neutral on incorporation and plans to continue doing so. He said the fire district would continue to operate in a “fiscally prudent manner.”

In other fire district news, Helene Orce, chair of the fire district’s board of commissioners, said the board would continue a lawsuit against the town board after it granted a February special permit to Formation Shelbourne to build an assisted living facility at 448 Underhill Road.

The fire district board has maintained it does not believe the town considered its concerns about the steep and curvy nature of the road — a road down which its fire trucks will have to travel when responding to the assisted living facility.

The next step for the fire district is to file an answer to the town’s motion to dismiss the Article 78 lawsuit.

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