Bids for new Dracut fire station to be unveiled

Last process resulted in costs higher than budgeted

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DRACUT — Town officials should know the results of the latest round of bidding on a new Dracut fire station within the next few days.

Interim Town Manager Ann Vandal said bids from general contractors are due Friday. Sub-bids, excluding heating, air conditioning and ventilation, were due Thursday, and all other sub-bids by Monday.

The fire-station project was approved two years ago, but responses to past calls for bids came in way over the $4 million debt exclusion that voters approved in September 2018. Construction was expected to start this past spring.

In June, then-Town Manager James Duggan announced a six-month delay in the project due to bids coming in between $500,000 to $600,000 over budget.

“There are issues in trying to work out with the Permanent Building Committee and necessary financing, so it is going to be postponed,’’ Duggan said at the time.

The project went out to bid again with a deadline for response of Oct. 2. The bids in early October ranged from $4.5 million to $6.3 million.

“The bids came in and the bids went out again,” Vandal said at a recent meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

She attributed the unexpectedly high bids the town has received to “rising costs for material and labor, and tariffs.”

With this round of bidding, the town posted the request for bids on COMMBUYS, in addition to The Sun and other local news outlets.

COMMBUYS is the state’s procurement record system. It offers transparency and increases competition among bidders, according to its website.

Fire Station 3, the one to be replaced, also known as the Collinsville Fire Station, is the busiest in town. According to figures from 2017, the station responded to 1,986 of the 4,026 calls in town.

In a 2018 video for The Sun, Firefighter Leo McMahon gave a tour of the cramped quarters at the current station, which is located on Lakeview Avenue. Modern fire engines are difficult to navigate in the existing space and proximity to a major thoroughfare. He also cited limited space for personal items, decontamination and equipment. Living quarters amount to 300 square feet for three firefighters on 24-hour shifts.