Fire station facelift eyed

BAR HARBOR — The 103-year-old brick fire station here is in need of a major facelift. The work is needed to halt increasing water infiltration and prevent further damage to the façade, town councilors were told Tuesday.

Scott Whittaker of Building Envelope Specialists Inc., the same company that is renovating the façade of the municipal building, told councilors that the water resistance of the building has reached about half of its life cycle, and that replacing rusting window lintels and re-pointing bricks now would be of major benefit to the structure.

“This is the normal wear and tear you see on a 100-year-old building that’s made of masonry,” he said. “You’re addressing this at the right time. None of this damage is irreversible.”

The outer course of bricks are showing signs of fracturing and loosening because of water infiltration over the years, Whittaker demonstrated in a slide presentation. He also showed how rusting lintels have expanded to push on bricks and create cracks in the façade.

The only parts of the façade that are in critical shape are the walls of the hose tower, Whittaker said. There are several large areas of bulging, loose bricks on these walls, he said. They are in danger of falling at some point. Calling the tower face “worrisome,” Whittaker said that the corners should be reinforced with board braces in the short term at the very least, while a more permanent fix is considered.

The estimated cost of the repairs to the building’s brick face would be in the $300,000 range, Whittaker said. This price would increase were the work to be done in stages.

Councilors responded favorably to the idea of repairing the historic building, which was designed by noted architect Fred Savage in 1901 and built the following year. However, several expressed concern that the floor of the building also may need structural integrity work. Whittaker agreed that an assessment of the floor would be a good idea and said his company could create one as soon as next week. Councilors voiced that they were amenable to this idea.

He said that were the floor to need structural reinforcement, it could be repaired without removing the steel girders currently in place. The estimated cost of such work would become available once an engineering assessment was completed.

The fire station has an account with $50,000 in it from the rental of cell phone antenna space on the roof, with regular income coming in from the deal. The nest egg could be used for creating design documents and putting the repair jobs out to bid, councilors agreed.

No formal action was taken.

Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]
Robert Levin

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