Arbini Updates on Chelsea’s Need for a New Fire Station

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Chelsea current fire station at 200 W Middle St. Photo by Doug Marrin.

Chelsea Area Fire Authority Fire Chief Robert Arbini updated the city council on the need for a new fire station.

Arbini told the council that in his six years as Chief, “we’ve made a lot of great strides, but one of our shortcomings is the fire station.”

The station, located at 200 W Middle St., was built in 1963 for a volunteer fire service. Arbini explained the old station has a number of issues. The apparatus bay is slowly sinking due to being built upon a landfill. Sleeping quarters, training room, and workout facilities are in the bay area.

“We’re being exposed to carbon monoxide when vehicles come and go,” said Arbini. “Firefighters already have a much higher rate of getting cancer, and now we’re just exasperating that.”

Efforts to find a site for a new station began in earnest two years ago. Chief Arbini told the council that he had just received a study conducted by Midwestern Consulting that looked at some 11 different sites. Of the 11 locations, three appear to be most agreeable for a new firehall – Werkner Rd, Old Manchester Rd, and a parcel of fairground property.

However, before any site can be selected, more work has to be done. In a phone call with the Sun Times News, Chief Arbini explained, “There have been numerous conversations about these three sites, but further testing and studies will ultimately determine the viability of a location.”

“We don’t know how the finances are going to look yet,” Arbini told the council. “But we want to mentally prepare people that a change is going to be coming. We cannot continue to stay in the station.”

Chief Arbini said there have been many opportunities for sites outside the city limits, but “we want to stay within city proper.”

“That station started in the city, and I want to make sure it stays in the city,” he added.

Councilmember Wiseley commented, “Whatever you do, you’re going to need room for growth in the future as we’re not going to get any smaller.”

Arbini responded by saying he’d like a station double the size of the current one for that reason, with enough room to expand in the years to come.

Mayor Pacheco stated that conversations between the council and the fire department have been ongoing over the past two years. Talks included staffing numbers and how it relates to required space and facilities for different genders.

“It will likely be on our vision session agenda for a little bit more detailed conversation,” said Pacheco. “We’ll need to be thinking about the existing property, the proposed location, how we’re involved in terms of financing.”

“There’s a lot more conversation, but we definitely wanted the Chief to come and just give us an update,” she added.

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