Smithfield residents weigh tax hikes vs. response time in new fire station vote

Smithfield residents weigh tax hikes vs response time in new fire station vote. (WJAR)

Voters in Smithfield are considering a $4.5 million referendum to fund a bond that will pay for the construction of a new fire station in the north end of town. It will appear as Question 4 on Tuesday’s ballot.

"If you take about a mile stretch of Route 7, ten thousand people come to work there every day,” said Chief Robert Seltzer about how busy that area of town is.

The area includes the huge Fidelity Investments campus on Salem Street, the Bryant University campus, four day cares, and elementary school, and several condominium complexes – many of which are for residents 55 and over. Response times to that part of town run between eight and 14 minutes while the safety standards as put forth by the National Fire Protection Agency put response times between four and six minutes.

"With the businesses there now, the population there now, and the proposed businesses that are going to be coming in that area, the need (for a fire station) is there now and it's only going to grow, “ said Seltzer.

There is expected to be an impact of about $14 per tax payer in the first year, and then another $47 in the second year. However, because of the addition of a new fire station, insurance rates will likely drop and savings on tax payers’ insurance costs could even exceed the increase in taxes to pay for the fire station. In addition, a federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security has already been awarded to the department to cover the costs of staffing the new station for three years and adding a rescue vehicle. Chief Seltzer says the town already has the rest of the apparatus to man the new fire station.

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