October 28, 2021

Ellsworth to mull fire station floor cracks

ELLSWORTH — City councilors will debate what action to take now that a report on the condition of the fire station’s concrete floor is completed.

Numerous cracks developed in the floor less than a year after it was poured as part of the overall renovation project at City Hall. Nickerson & O’Day, the general contractor for the renovation project, hired a consultant to determine the cause.

Earlier this month, an inspection of the floor by Concrete Constructives of Greene determined the main cause of the cracks was shrinkage as the cement dried to concrete. The report notes that there were many areas, such as the bases of existing columns, where old concrete was not isolated or separated from the newly poured cement. It also states there were too few control joints placed in the slab and, in many cases, those that were there were not located at the greatest stress points.

Most of the cracks begin at areas where the old and new concrete meet, especially around the base of the support columns.

Fire Chief Robert McKenney said he raised concerns, not only because of aesthetic reasons, but for practical ones.

“I didn’t want to back a truck in here and have it drop through,” McKenney said. “Also, we get a lot of water on the floor here. I was concerned that water could settle in those cracks and rust the reinforcing bars.”

In a letter to Nickerson & O’Day President Jack Kelley, consultant Peter Craig suggested that the cracks should be sealed.

“While properly routing and sealing the cracks can satisfy the basic protective concerns, the process will tend to accentuate the cracks which, in most cases, will raise aesthetic concerns,” Craig said.

He said the entire floor surface could be treated with an “elastomeric, traffic-grade membrane system,” which would seal the cracks and provide a uniform, nonskid, waterproof surface. The drawback to that system, he cautioned, is that it can be blackened by flames or sparks, and the smoke created by burning or melting of most systems is toxic.

City Manager Tim King said the City Council has not yet discussed the report, and will wait for cost estimates on the different options before councilors determine how to proceed with the matter.

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