As all Shoalers know, fire safety is a foremost concern on Star Island. Given our historic facilities and remote location, vigilant attention to the upkeep of our fire safety system is critical to Star Island’s continued ability to welcome overnight guests safely, as we have for over 100 years. In addition to strictly enforcing fire safety practices, each year we aim to improve elements of Star Island’s fire safety and suppression system.
During Star Island’s closure in 2020 due to COVID-19, an important objective of our summer plan was to turn crisis into opportunity. Rather than boarding up the island, a small crew kept watch over Star throughout the summer while completing needed improvements to ensure that when we return, the island will be even better than when we left it. One such improvement completed last month, in keeping with our focus on fire safety, was the replacement of PVC plastic sprinkler pipes with iron and steel pipes, because the plastic ones become brittle and fail over time and steel pipes are tougher and longer-lasting. In critical corrosion areas, we use galvanized pipe. This is part of an ongoing, multi-year effort to upgrade our island-wide sprinkler system.
Fire safety improvements are crucial to our efforts to preserve treasured historic resources on Star Island like the Oceanic Hotel, which is recognized throughout New Hampshire as an important historic icon. Star Island has received four significant grants from the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) to preserve the Oceanic, and in 2015 the hotel received a “Seven to Save” designation from the NH Preservation Alliance. This year, in partnership with the 1772 Foundation, which invests in historic preservation efforts across New England, the NH Preservation Alliance issued a grant of $6,113 to Star Island in support of our sprinkler system improvements this summer. These funds were matched dollar for dollar by unrestricted donations to Star Island.
Star Island and its facilities are a historic treasure. In order to preserve the Oceanic and the other historic buildings that make up Star Island’s facility, making them available to current and future generations, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to implement fire safety improvements. Support from funders who value historic preservation is essential to these efforts. We are grateful for the support of the 1772 Foundation and the NH Preservation Alliance, which helps us preserve and protect the Oceanic and other historic buildings on Star Island.