Melrose to vote on new fire stations after we found leaking roofs, rodents and raw sewage

A "Small Town Secrets" investigation uncovered a long list of issues with conditions inside fire stations in Melrose, Massachusetts, including no heat in the winter, rodent infestation, water leaks and raw sewage. City leaders have now decided to place a temporary tax hike on the November ballot to fund the replacement of the aging public safety buildings.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Taxpayers in Melrose, Massachusetts, will vote in November on whether to replace their outdated public safety buildings.

The development comes after an NBC10 Boston investigation revealed a litany of issues inside the city's fire stations, including no heat in the winter, leaking roofs, rodent infestation and raw sewage.



Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.


Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

Our story also raised safety issues for the first responders who live and work in the buildings.

On Thursday in front of the fire department headquarters, Mayor Paul Brodeur signed an order that will place the issue on the November ballot. Residents will decide whether to approve a temporary tax hike to fund the replacement or renovation of all four public safety buildings.

Many public safety buildings across Massachusetts are in need of repair, firefighters said after the NBC10 Boston Investigators' report on the conditions of a fire station in Melrose.

The work on the city's three fire stations and the police station is estimated to cost $130 million.

"The need to replace our public safety buildings is abundantly clear. We simply cannot expect our first responders to provide modern public safety services in aging and obsolete buildings, some of which were built over 120 years ago," Brodeur said in a statement to residents. "This is an unsustainable situation, and the status quo cannot continue."

After getting a tip, the NBC10 Boston Investigators submitted a public records request related to conditions inside the Melrose fire stations.

Emails we obtained revealed a steady stream of messages from Melrose Fire Chief Ed Collina to public works officials about problems that surfaced.

Collina later gave us an eye-opening tour of the department headquarters, which was built at the turn of the 20th century.

Among the sights: A plastic pool placed in the office to catch ceiling leaks; a disintegrating kitchen floor lined by mouse traps; and a section of condemned flooring, held up by temporary pillars in the basement and no longer able to support the weight of fire apparatus.

Photos Show Deteriorated Conditions at Melrose Fire Facilities

In the wake of our story, we heard from fire departments across the state, inviting us to come check out the conditions inside their stations.

State Sen. Walter Timilty, a Democrat representing parts of Norfolk County, Plymouth County and Bristol County, is proposing legislation that would establish a public safety building authority to review and approve projects in municipalities.

The problems at fire stations in Melrose, Massachusetts, include flooding, rodents, raw sewage and a lack of heat.

Modeled after Massachusetts' program for school buildings, the state lawmaker said dedicated sales tax revenue would provide state funding and help local taxpayers shoulder the burden.

"In one word, public safety buildings around the commonwealth are dilapidated," Timilty told us in February. "And in two other words, they are health hazards."

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing on Sept. 13 at the Massachusetts State House before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

 Ryan Kath can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

Contact Us