Poor Firehouse 'Workmanship' Causes Concern

In attempting to resolve construction issues, Enterprise Fire Company enlists help from a third party inspector.

Cracks in the building’s exterior shell, warped flooring, peeling paint around windows, caulk that has not sealed and other examples of poor “workmanship.”

Those are just some of the issues President Chris Gowen raised this week following a walk-through of the $1 million construction project that’s been ongoing for nearly 18 months.

“You liken it to your own house,” Gowen said. “You definitely wouldn’t be accepting it if things weren’t right.”

Hatboro officials have been trying to force the hand of Bensalem-based contractor Titanium Inc. to finish the two-story, 2,500-square-foot firehouse’s expansion, a project that was .

But, after seeing cracks on the outside of the newly constructed building that could allow water to seep in; windows that have not been properly sealed; patches of “wavy” siding; and warping floorboards on the second floor that Gowen said were not properly staggered, Gowen said he’s intent on having the issues corrected before signing off on the building.

“We need to make sure it’s corrected prior to their last payment,” Gowen said. “If we don’t accept the building, things have to be fixed on it.”

For his part, Titanium owner Mark Gill said he knew nothing of the issues that Gowen raised.

“There’s been no talk, at least not with me,” Gill said. “They want to get things done? Tell them to pay me.”

Hatboro - $87,989.21 – until the expansion is satisfactorily completed. Hatboro Borough Manager from his post effective today, said all bets are off for when that will be.

“Those dates have come and gone the past six months,” Plaugher said of previously promised completion dates. The plan, he said, is to “just keep moving forward, as long as we’re making progress.”

Reiterating what he , Gill said Thursday, “we’re very, very close.”

“There’s very, very little work to be done to actually wrap this up,” Gill said. “The job is literally 99 percent complete. There’s less than two days of work.”

Yet, when pressed for an expected completion date, Gill repeated what he said in November, that it would “probably be done in a month.” 

“Inspections need to be done,” he said, adding that he has no “control” over scheduling for those.

Gowen said he’s been asking for several months for inspections to be carried out of the concrete, footings and drainage.

“They’re supposed to do a drain test. I thought it was done,” Gowen said. “I don’t remember, or see anything that says it was completed.”

During the walk-through this week, a third party inspector commissioned by the fire department noticed the issues that Gowen referenced and more, according to Gowen. A report is being prepared, but Gowen said concerns have already been shared with borough officials, including code enforcement officer Keith Fugate.

“I didn’t want the borough to think we were just complaining all the time,” Gowen said. “This validates some of the things we’ve been saying.”

Still, Gowen worries that since Fugate is overseeing the project and since some of the issues are not specifically code enforcement matters that they are falling on deaf ears.

“He’s only interested in codes things,” Gowen said of Fugate. “We’re bringing up non-code things to him and he seems to be disregarding them because he doesn’t bring them up to anybody.”

Patch was unsuccessful in reaching Fugate for comment.

Effective Monday, Hatboro’s Public Works Superintendent Fred Zollers, an Enterprise Fire Company member and former chief, will assume the role of interim borough manager, in essence picking up where Plaugher left off.

“We’re on our fourth borough manager managing this,” Gowen said. 

Throughout the lengthy project, officials have wrangled with Gill over state-mandated construction practices, including meeting prevailing wage guidelines; and using a specific steel in the building’s elevator. If proper procedures are not followed, the state could opt to refuse reimbursing the borough its $500,000 matching grant.

To further complicate matters, the borough council announced in May that Gill’s failure to complete his portion of the state’s required paperwork could also jeopardize receipt of those funds.

Plaugher said that process is ongoing.

“We’re still working with the state office of budget gathering the material,” Plaugher said. “Titanium has been cooperating and providing their documentation as needed … As work continues additional documentation is needed.”

Hatboro proud July 14, 2012 at 02:55 PM
You get what you pay for = low bid. Sometimes the low bidder is not the best option, why do you think the low bidder is able to come in so much lower. Has to cut costs somewhere. I am also concerned like the other posters should we be worried about other larger projects done to businesses and homes in Hatboro and their safety should the borough be considering a third party inspector to come in and check these projects since it sounds like the code official is not qualified. I would hate to see a crowded deck come crashing down and people hurt. How could the code official not listen to the fire company, wasn't the code official getting paid the same tax money that gill was getting paid? These folks are some questions council should be answering.
jarhead July 14, 2012 at 03:53 PM
“He’s only interested in codes things,” Gowen said of Fugate. “We’re bringing up non-code things to him and he seems to be disregarding them because he doesn’t bring them up to anybody.” Are you kidding me? I hope this is not true. What a slap in the face to each and every taxpayer of Hatboro. Who is in charged of this bozo?
that's confusing July 14, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Hatter, three of the sitting Councilmen voted to award the contract for the firehouse to Titanium (it was a unanimous vote).
fire company screw up July 15, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Please, let's stop the borough bashing. In order to save some money the Fire Company decided to not hire a professional project manager, someone to monitor construction and to protect their interests during the project. Instead, the Fire Company asked a couple of their volunteers who have some construction experience to do this work. Talk about being penny wise and pound foolish. Then, after they hire the right professional AFTER the work has been completed and problems discovered, they have the nerve to blame the borough.
Mike July 15, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Wonder what Zygmont thinks of this. He cant stongarm this situation!


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