• Merrimac first responders fear for own public safety, unless taxpayers help

    By: Blair Miller

    Updated:

    MERRIMAC, Mass. - First responders answer several calls a day hoping to help anyone in danger. 

    But on the inside of a building that is falling apart, Merrimac police and fire officials are making their own call for help.

    Boston 25's Blair Miller got a firsthand look at the deteriorating condition of Merrimac PD and Fire Department's joint public safety building, which is more than 100 years old. 

    "It's a real concern," said Merrimac Police Chief Eric Shears. "The building is structurally deficient and we have no room operationally." Chief Shears added that they do not even have an interview room in the building. 

    From the outside in, it's hard to miss the numerous large cracks on the ceiling and below. Walking further in, there's a cramped dispatch room and a basement that smells of mold from the constant flooding. 

    According to Chief Shears, health inspectors previously deemed the building uninhabitable, with a foundation close to sinking. 

    On the fire side, the concerns are similar. 

    "It needs some attention and updating so that people can do their jobs properly and safely," said Fire Chief Larry Fisher. 

    For that to be a reality, it would fall 100% on the taxpayers dime. 

    Public safety leaders in Merrimac are proposing a brand new facility with more space, but it would cost nearly $6.5 million. 

    Merrimac Finance Director Carol McLeod said the costs average out to about $200 per year, per house valued at $390,000. 

    "Two hundred dollars is a lot for anybody to pay a year, but they need to understand the dire circumstances of this building," said McLeod.

    If the proposal fails to get approved, police officers and firefighters worry their own public safety will be at risk. 

    "It's a challenge for us every single day," said Chief Shears.

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