Solution For Summer

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By Scott E. Kinney, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, May 4, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

HAMPTON -- Thanks to an alternate plan presented by Hampton Fire Chief Hank Lipe on Monday, the town's beach fire station will be allowed to remain operational throughout the summer.

The town was considering its options on what to do with the station following the discovery that it would cost the town a minimum of $80,000 to recover the station from lead paint.

Lipe's proposal on Monday night would cut the cost of keeping the station open to less than half; the total cost would be $30,000, with $23,275 coming from encumbered funds for the project from the 2006 budget. Lipe stated no money from the 2007 budget would be expended toward the project.

"My proposal is to create a lead-free substation inside of the existing contaminated area," said Lipe, who stated it is his primary objective to maintain a fire suppression presence on the beach.

"We have to have fire services here," Lipe noted on Tuesday.

The proposed cost to complete the work also includes testing employees for lead poisoning and renting a storage trailer to house supplies and other equipment that will no longer be able to be housed in the station.

While the cost of reclaiming the building is greatly reduced there is a further cost in space within the station. The station will be cut approximately in half as sections of the building are cordoned off.

Bays One and Four of the station would be closed as well as the hose tower and the storage and maintenance areas. However, Lipe said the emergency medical services supply room and the medical aid room would be allowed to remain open.

Town Manager Fred Welch told the board last week that he was concerned the town would have to shut down the station after all the bids to remove all of the paint came in over $80,000.

The town was being ordered to address the issue of lead paint or close the station following and inspection by the state Department of Labor, which uncovered lead paint in the ceilings during a routine inspection in December.

Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard, but when it begins to peel and chip it can become problematic.

The element is typically more dangerous to children than adults because children's growing bodies absorb more lead and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.

Adults can suffer from difficulties during pregnancy and other reproductive problems. Other effects as a result of exposure to lead are high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain.

Lipe said on Tuesday that his proposal is merely a temporary fix until a more permanent solution can be found.

For years fire officials have sought to replace the failing beach station that was built in 1923. Lipe said Tuesday he spoke with Welch regarding future plans for a permanent beach substations.

"I asked for his leadership to bring the board of selectmen and precinct commission together to get a new substation," he said. "It's been a tough road to hoe and it's time. It's time for the leaders of the town to come together and get it done."

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