A rendering of the new Bath fire station. Courtesy of the City of Bath

Sen. Susan Collins last week announced she included $1.75 million for Bath’s new fire station in a federal spending bill.

The money was part of nearly $14 million in funding Collins included in the Agriculture and Rural Development appropriations bill to help pay for seven new fire stations and emergency service facilities across Maine. Collins is vice chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved the bill on June 22. The full Senate and House of Representatives will soon consider the bill.

“Firefighters, first responders and emergency response professionals across Maine courageously and selflessly put their lives on the line to serve our towns and cities,” Collins said. “This funding will help to ensure that Maine’s first responders have the adequate facilities needed to do their jobs as effectively and safely as possible. … I will continue to champion this funding as the appropriations process moves forward.”

Bath’s new $16.5 million fire station will be built at the site of the former Morse High School on High Street. The project is expected to break ground in 2024. Last year, voters approved borrowing up to $13 million to help pay for it. If approved, the federal funding would reduce the amount the city needs to borrow, according to City Manager Marc Meyers.

“We’re thrilled to receive this level of federal support,” Meyers said. “There are a lot of competing interests for federal resources, so we certainly weren’t banking on that money.”

The remainder of the building’s cost will be paid for with city tax increment financing funds.

The current fire station on High Street, which opened in 1958, was targeted for replacement in 2020 based on the recommendation of Harriman, a Northeast-based architectural firm hired by the city to evaluate it. The firm cited several concerns with the station, including poor air quality, the lack of a sprinkler system, diesel exhaust contamination, inadequate garage bays and doorways, and stacking of emergency vehicles.

The funding secured by Collins included $2.9 million for a Brownfield public safety building to house the fire department, Oxford County Sheriff substation and emergency operations center; $2.6 million for a Randolph fire station; $2.25 million for a Sinclair fire station; $2.04 million for a Franklin County emergency operations center in Farmington; $1.57 million for a Hancock fire station; and $750,000 for a Springfield municipal facility to house the fire station, town office and a warming shelter.

Collins’ office said she has secured more than $500 million for hundreds of Maine projects in the last two years.

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