Portland fire chief looking at alternative space for fire boat crew

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PORTLAND — The fire chief this week planned to inspect space on Maine Wharf that could provide fire-boat crew quarters at a third of the cost proposed at the Maine State Pier.

Chief Fred LaMontagne said he was contacted by Joe Malone of Malone Commercial Brokers Monday to see if he wanted to look at a 2,000-square-foot office that could be converted into living quarters for firefighters.

“We will be looking at that property, probably today or tomorrow,” Lamontagne said Tuesday.

Maine Wharf is owned by Eric Cianchette and is next to the Maine State Pier, where the fire boat is docked.

“This could give them some flexibility,” Malone said.

The City Council in October is expected to decide whether to spend $1.8 million in Capital Improvement Project funds to build new fire-boat crew quarters at the Casco Bay Garage. Some councilors have spoken out against the proposal, saying it is too costly.

The current quarters for firefighters assigned to the fire boat are inside the Casco Bay Garage and are small (400 square feet) and damp, causing mold and other problems.

The Maine Wharf space has a bathroom and shower, and a small kitchen area. Malone said there are also a few parking spots and plenty of dock space for the fire boat.

“They could literally jump out the window onto the boat,” he said.

The space would cost $30,000 a year to lease. The Casco Bay Garage proposal before the council would cost about $135,000 a year for 20 years.

LaMontagne said the space would have to be renovated to meet code requirements and requirements for emergency personnel quarters. 

“Without looking at it, I don’t know yet if it will work,” the chief said. “We’d have to move the boat, too.”

Malone said he thought the space would work well as interim quarters until the city decides what it is going to do with the Maine State Pier. 

“The Maine State Pier is likely to get torn up in the next few years,” Malone said. “This gives them time to gel a plan.”

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net