Firm shares public safety complex feasibility study in Orange

  • Mark Anderson, project manager of The LiRo Group, details a proposed plan for a new public safety facility in Orange as, left to right, Project Captain Ashley Aydt, Public Safety Facility Consultant John McGee, and Mark McCluskey, a civil engineer with Pare Corporation, look on. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 11/20/2023 3:16:43 PM
Modified: 11/20/2023 3:17:16 PM

ORANGE — Firefighters have to remove and bag their gear at a fire scene before bringing it to the secondary Fire Station on Mill Yard Road, the only one with the proper cleaning equipment. But construction of the public safety complex proposed for 574 East River St. would eliminate that lengthy process, with complete decontamination on site.

This was an enormous consideration in terms of the layout for the proposed structure, according to Project Manager Mark Anderson of The LiRo Group, the architectural, engineering and construction firm tapped to give the Orange Police and Fire departments a consolidated new home. Representatives from the firm were on hand at Town Hall on Thursday for a public safety complex feasibility study presentation.

“Without a doubt, this is something the community, I’m sure, wants to support — if nothing else, for the health and safety of the first responders,” said John McGee, a public safety facility consultant, adding that the Fire Station at 18 Water St. and the Police Station at 400 East River St. are inadequate. “They are deficient in health and safety codes, they are deficient in [Americans with Disabilities Act] codes. They are deficient in pretty much everything.”

He said allowing firefighters to safely decontaminate their gear on-site will eliminate the likelihood of harmful particles wafting through the station or being brought home to firefighters’ families. Cancer is a leading cause of death among firefighters, whose gear becomes contaminated with carcinogenic material at fire scenes.

“We went through several schemes to make sure that we had the optimal scenario in terms of flow and function and separations, all of that,” Anderson told the Greenfield Recorder after the presentation.

The roughly 30,000-square-foot structure proposed for East River Street would span two floors on the Fire Department side and one on the police portion. Anderson mentioned the Fire Department side will be constructed with charred wood, “which has super-good longevity and a low price point.” For the police side, the developers are considering brick or metal.

Orange Fire Chief James Young previously said his department has operated out of the Water Street station since 1936, when it was built. He said the department has for years had to order customized apparatus to fit into the station’s bay.

First responders made up much of the scant attendance Thursday evening, with Young and Police Chief James Sullivan joined by various firefighters and police officers as well as a handful of interested residents.

The LiRo Group representatives hosted a remote presentation for the Selectboard last month. Anderson said about 40 proposed parking spaces have been added to the rear of the building.

This whole project is expected to cost $30 million. Anderson explained The LiRo Group will soon deliver a final report to the town, which will have to solicit funding to pay for the work. He said this will likely consist of external sources and a bond for at least a portion of the project.

“There’s not a huge amount of money out there,” McGee told Selectboard Vice Chair Andrew Smith after the presentation. “I mean, you’ll get bits and pieces. There’s some rural grants that I would think Orange would fall into that prerogative, as would most of western Mass. I’ve seen western Mass. towns get some of that.”

He previously said the space at 574 East River St. is a former youth football field between the Highway Garage and a dirt access road to the Orange Municipal Airport hangars. He has said the site has good topography and is owned by the town.

The representatives said it has been a pleasure to work with Orange officials

“It’s been great,” said Project Captain Ashley Aydt. “I mean, we’ve gotten to work really closely with both of the chiefs and having the end users write their recommendations for the entire process from beginning to end is huge.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli or

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