Work set for fire tower
>Renovations scheduled before end of the year
MILFORD – Milford’s Federal Hill fire tower is expected to receive significant renovations before the end of the year. Thomas Mansfield, an architect for the New Hampshire Department of Economic Resources and Development, said the scheduled project includes replacing the tower’s building, reinforcement of the structural steel supports to better withstand strong winds, concrete foundation repair, installation of new stair treads, guard rails and painting of the tower steel superstructure.
The state-owned tower, built in 1911, is one of 16 in New Hampshire working in conjunction with each other, as well as with aircraft spotters and ground-based resources, to protect forest lands and more developed areas around the state.
Work has delayed somewhat as the state negotiates with U.S. Cellular, which has equipment installed on the tower. The equipment needs to be removed before work can commence and could start anytime after a deal is reached.
The project has a November completion date, said Mansfield.
"If we start soon we can do that. If we wait another month, all bets are off," he added.
The project, paid for from the state’s general fund, will cost about $84,000. The work will be performed by J.P. Mac- Donald Services, LLC, of Massachusetts.
Part of the project, removal of the cab, will require workers to dismantle and lower it by hand to the ground below. The cab is a cabin-like structure at the top where the fire spotter and related equipment are housed, at the top of a steel stand.
The cab houses an Osborne Firefinder, a disc-like device that helps spotters, known as watchmen, pinpoint the source of smoke in the 360-degree view the high perch provides.
Located near Ponemah Hill Road, the Federal Hill tower is the southernmost tower in the state and provides a view of the surrounding landscape from 690 feet up. Fire towers in Derry and Effingham recently received renovations, and the structure in Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham is currently undergoing similar work.
Mansfield called the towers "iconic structures" and the state’s division of historical resources was consulted prior to finalizing plans. The new structure will have a metal, hipstyle roof and will appear much as it does now.
According to data collected for 2015, the state’s division of forests and lands lists 90 reported wildland fires that burned 467 fires. The largest wildland fire burned 190 acres.
Don Himsel can be reached at 594- 6590, dhimsel@nashua telegraph.com.