Cost Saving Scenario for Fire Flow Causes Tension

107203_fire_sprinkler_system_1As the School Board reaches 90% completion of the design for the new high school, the issue of fire flow remains unresolved. At a rescheduled meeting on Wednesday, March 31st the Town Council presented a draft “Utility Construction and Cost Sharing Agreement” to address the fire flow plan. Based on the framework presented at the last Town Council meeting, the agreement was designed to create a working environment between the Council and the School Board that would allow the fire flow project to proceed quickly.

The town and the board have agreed that the upgrade above and beyond what the new high school needs, would benefit the entire community so the two entities have agreed in principle to each fund half of the project. The agreement as it was presented in draft, puts the cost of the project at $500,000. This number has been and continues to be the sticking point.

School Board Chairman Robina Bouffault sought other opinions on the cost of the system and had a quote prepared for a comparable system from Flowtronex. Their solution is a pre-engineered package that provides equal capacity to the custom system designed by PHR&A engineers that has been included in the project thus far and that has been approved by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). The cost of the Flowtronex system is $188,889. Chairman Bouffault contends that the Flowtronex system will meet the needs of the project at a significant cost savings.

In the council meeting Keith Dalton acknowledged that Chairman Bouffault had submitted the proposal from Flowtronex but voiced his opposition to considering this alternative. He recommended that the Council adopt the PHR&A plan for several reasons, including the fact that it has already been approved   by VDH. Resubmitting to VDH could slow the project by months.

Dalton also called specific attention to Paragraph 1.1 of the draft agreement which states, “The board acknowledges that the Improvements meet the requirement necessary to provide fire flow capacity to the School Property and the Town acknowledges the the Improvements meet the Town’s design requirements.” implying that by accepting the agreement, the School Board is agreeing to the proposed system.

Chairman Bouffault asked to speak during the meeting and said that she had just received the document the morning of the meeting and pointed out that the document will need to be reviewed by the School Board and their attorney. Bouffault said that next School Board meeting was scheduled for April 15th.

Mayor Kirby suggested that “If the document is not considered by the Council until its next regular meeting in May the decision would still fall in line with the school’s plans”

Bouffault agreed stating,”That should be OK because I see it as a stand alone project”

Based on the discussion at the meeting the town does not seem to be interested in considering the cost saving proposal from the School Board.   The School Board will now need to review the draft agreement and decide how to proceed.


  1. Lonnie Bishop says:

    If the other one, that’s some $300K cheaper, meets all requisite standards, exactly why again is the Town being unyielding?