Timilty Testifies on Bill That Would Create a Public Safety Building Authority

(Boston, MA) – State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton) testified on January 26, 2022 on a bill he filed that would create a Public Safety Building Authority. The bill would reform the process of funding capital improvement projects here in the Commonwealth. Timilty testified at a public hearing before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, of which he co-chairs.

“Across the Commonwealth, buildings that house our first responders and critical public safety equipment have become dilapidated, unhealthy, and unsafe. Subsequently, there is no single authority to where our local municipalities can turn to advocate for state funding in order to improve these crucial buildings,” said Timilty.

The legislation, Bill S.2125, An Act relative to the creation of the Massachusetts Board of Public Safety Building Authority, would create an authority that would be comprised of both public and private entities.

The Massachusetts Public Safety Building Authority would mirror the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Specifically, it would be overseen and chaired by the Massachusetts State Treasurer, and include the Secretary of Administration and Finance, along with the Secretary of Public Safety and Security.

“This bill will reform the process for funding capital improvement projects in the Commonwealth’s fire and police stations,” he added. “So many stations, within the district that I serve, were built more than 100 years ago. Equipment and health concerns have radically changed since then.”

In addition, many police stations continue to operate well past their planned lifespans. Changes in technology, current building code requirements, security issues, as well as outdated building systems, such as heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and electrical, all require significant expenditures to update.

Many existing public safety structures are believed to have a life span of between 20-50 years. This bill will allow towns to help prepare for these inevitable new or renovation projects for their facilities.

“The aging stations do not fit in the 21st century of public safety, and in some cases, were built to fit horse-drawn wagons,” Timilty noted.

In the Town of Stoughton, for example, Fire Station 1 was built in 1927 at a time when fire apparatus was much smaller and carcinogen awareness was not on the radar.

Carcinogen exposure is at the forefront of many fire station improvements. Firefighters go out on a fire call where they spend hours immersed in toxic chemicals, which seep into their protective gear, trucks, and equipment. Then, they bring this contaminated gear back to the station where it off-gases into the air and onto the surfaces where firefighters eat, sleep, live, and work.

As towns consider building new fire stations, the designs will include larger spaces, as well as equipment decontamination spaces to mitigate exposure to toxins.

“Our first responders deserve first-class equipment and facilities to perform what they do best, protecting the lives of every one of us, every day. Quite simply, this authority will serve as a mechanism for local municipalities to advocate and apply for state funding to improve their facilities,” Timilty said.

“Should this legislation be adopted, it would allow for our local town officials to reach out to this authority to help navigate through the process of securing these monies. This is sound legislation that will lead to better governance here in the Commonwealth,” Timilty stated.

Timilty’s bill can be found here at this link: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/S2125.

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