In Search of a New Substation
Fire Chief Calls Current Building Insufficient
By Alexander Plummer
Hampton Union, Friday, July 13, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- The Hampton Fire Department is looking to expand in the form of a substation, which the chief says is, "imperative," for the department to remain successful in its day-to-day operations.
The present facility was built in 1908 and is owned by the Hampton Village Precinct. Several locations have been mentioned by the chief and Village Precinct, but nothing has been considered final.
Chief Hank Lipe explained that the current structure is deteriorating and is "past the point of sufficient operations for us."
One potential site named for a new substation is the current Village Precinct parking lot, which holds 80 parking spots. Precinct member Gary Kubik stressed the need for the parking lot to remain as a parking lot and cited flooding and business loss as two main reasons why he feels that way.
"The parking lot has the potential for flooding, since it is one of the lowest points on the beach," he said. "The lot is also incredibly important for business in the local area, and I don't know a lot of people down here who are in favor of giving it up."
Kubick knows just how important both sides of this issue are.
"I completely support the building of a new fire substation," he said, "but the more parking we continue to take away in this town, the less people will come and visit. The parking lot is just out of the question," he said.
Town Manager Frederick Welch agrees.
"I have already stated to the board that it is imperative to build a new sub fire station," he said. "But the precinct parking lot, as far as I am concerned, is not being considered."
With the question of where and when the new station will end up being built still up for debate; Lipe said that the time for change has been long overdue.
"A new structure needs to be built in order for us to maintain and increase our efficiency," he said. "It's imperative that the officials and voters of the town secure or approve a new fire department substation that has close proximity to where we are today so we can ensure that proper fire and rescue services continue unimpeded at the beach."
Lipe addressed the Board of Selectmen this past Monday night and used the recent Casino Ballroom complex fire as another reason why the department needs a new substation.
"I was amazed at how quickly the fire spread," he told the board.
"It was minutes away from expanding underneath the Casino Ballroom floor and having the fire spread throughout the entire length of the ballroom, and if that had happened, the outcome would not have been nearly as successful as it was."
Lipe hopes all parties involved can find a common ground.
"I hope that the voters and public officials come together and the Village Precinct come together and recognize that this project is of the highest priority in town," he said.
"I look forward to working in the direction of completing an essential need for the beach."