MECHANICSVILLE, Md.—After a slow start and some delays over the winter the new Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department station is set to be finished by late October.
William Smith, the fire company's president, said that it has been challenging to continue to run calls during the razing and reconstruction of the aging building but the volunteers have met that challenge.
The volunteers moved all their apparatus, equipment and communications gear to just two prefabricated steel structures built on the carnival grounds on their property.
"We actually ran emergency services on a daily basis," Smith said. "Fire services have not been impaired.
"But it's been challenging to say the least."
That was one of the biggest points of discussion among volunteers, Smith said, but they chose to undertake the task. "That was the biggest challenge, relocating to another part of the property and working out of those metal buildings," Smith said.
All calls for service have been answered from the original property, Smith said, while all the administrative tasks were moved to company's Golden Beach station farther north.
Tearing down the old station, built back in 1976, was just the first step. The construciton of the new station, which is just onestory with a much larger footprint, ran into delays quickly.
"We couldn't poor concrete during the winter," Smith said. "And the rain in May delayed construction."
The heavy May rains were absorbed quickly, though, because of the sandy conditions on the property, Smith said.
The delays prompted some concern in the community, as well, Smith said.
"A lot of our citizens would call and ask what was going on there, because it seemed like things stopped," Smith said, "There was a lot going on, you just couldn't see it."
The total cost of the project is estimated at $7.3 million, with $2 million coming from a low interest loan from the Maryland State Firemans' Association for a 30-year term.
The volunteers are augmenting that amount with $3 million of their own money as well as $1 million from a revolving loan fund from the Commissioners of St. Mary's County for a 15-year term.
The fire company had solicited funds from the community for the project on the basis that the facility was aging beyond the reasonable ability to repair it and that the volunteers had outgrown the limited space in the two-story building.
The new building is going to be about 17,800 square feet in size with more modern amenities such as new drive-through bays for the apparatus, more sleep space for volunteers, a training tower, a decontamination room for emergency clothing and gear and even radiant heat in the floors of the bays.
The volunteer firefighters selected Manns Woodward Studios to design and W.M. Davis, Inc. to construct the new facility.
Smith said that the amount of calls the company has answered has
remained somewhat steady, despite the rebuilding of the station house.
"We're on course for answering 800 calls a year," Smith said.
of the stated reasons for building the new station was to meet the needs of
increasing volume of calls but the records for the station show that they
have remained steady for the past several years.
Last year the
volunteers ran 884 calls, much more than the 797 calls from 2014. In 2013
they answered 830 calls and the year before that they answered 862.
Smith said the new building could help the company bring in more volunteers;
as with many volunteer first responder groups in St. Mary's getting enough
new members is a problem.
"We've noticed an incline of people
interested because of the new station being built," Smith said, adding that
they already have about 10 new volunteers undergoing training now.
Though the transition has been a difficult one the volunteers were able to
show that they have not lost a step when it comes to being professional.
At a recent convention of first responders throughout the state in Ocean
City, the Mechanicsville volunteers took the top trophy for having the best
showing while on parade.
They brought home and now prominently
display the Marvin A. Gibbons Memorial Trophy.
Smith said he was
especially proud of the showing the volunteers gave given that they are
building a new home.
"I don't know how we did it," Smith said. "But
the guys worked very hard before the event."
For more information
and photos about the new facility, and to follow the progress of
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