Ceremony set for new Sissonville fire station
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- With most of the new Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department complete, plans are in the works for a grand opening ceremony.
"It's been a long road, for sure," said Capt. Jason McCutcheon, treasurer. "We are happy to be in the new building where we can serve the community better. Members are ecstatic and I think the community is happy, too."
Ground was broken for the new facility May 29 and necessary work completed on the ground level by Nov. 2. Additional funds are needed to complete the upper level.
The grand opening is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 17 with a ribbon cutting, flag raising, tours, and food such as hot dogs, chips and popcorn. Everything is free and open to the community. Food for the event is being provided by Woodsmen of the World, which also donated the flagpole.
The structure is located at 383 Call Road, which connects W.Va. 21 to Interstate 77.
The lower level is more than 8,000 square feet, including garage area, meeting room, kitchen, pantry, communications room, restrooms, office space, compressor room, and storage areas. There is also a generator to keep things running in the event of a power outage. Wireless internet service will be added soon.
When completed, the upstairs will include office space, exercise room, restrooms, storage area, sleeping rooms and space for gathering.
Tim Lilly, assistant fire chief, said the facility was built with an eye on what may be added in the future as funds become available.
Lilly and McCutcheon point out the facility is constructed to be fireproof.
"Everything is non-combustible," McCutcheon said. "It's masonry and steel outside with split face cinder block."
The station has a sprinkler system, fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as well as a vehicle exhaust system in the bay area. Garage doors are located on each end so vehicles may drive straight through without needing to back up, a measure that saves time and increases safety.
McCutcheon said the cost of the building project so far is estimated at more than $1.2 million and is covered by a variety of sources, including insurance, state and county funds, donations and a loan through Poca Valley Bank. Officials are hoping additional donations will help with remaining costs.
The new station will be named the Thomas K. Johnson Fire Station after a chief who served the department for more than 50 years. Johnson, who retired in December 2011, is to be on hand for the grand opening.
The department has had its share of setbacks but is made up of a determined crew.
The main station on Sissonville Drive near the new middle school was destroyed by an electrical fire in the early morning hours of Oct. 1, 2010. Emergency vehicles and equipment were also lost in the tragedy.
A professional as well as industrious group, firemen worked with borrowed equipment and space when necessary.
In June 2011, the firefighters' concession trailer, used to raise money for the new firehouse, was broken into. Thieves stole bun warmers, hot dog cookers, a coffee pot and other equipment. An auxiliary group headed fundraising efforts to replace stolen items.
On July 15 of this year, a utility trailer was stolen from the station's Edens Fork location. Thieves cut through a lock and took the trailer that was used to haul their utility terrain vehicle. The thief was never caught. The trailer had been purchased to replace one that was lost in the 2010 fire.
At the grand opening the community will celebrate starting over in the wake of many challenges.
Services offered by the department are numerous, from putting out fires to answering medical calls. The department has about 35 volunteer firefighters. These men and women may be found on emergency calls as well as teaching schoolchildren about fire safety.
"We cover 125 square miles and answer 550 to 600 calls a year, not including medical calls," McCutcheon said.
The old fire station site on Sissonville Drive is used to store rescue boats and equipment. Aside from the new station, fire trucks are housed at a substation near Sissonville Elementary as well as the Edens Fork location. Technically, the department is the Sissonville, Millertown, Pocatalico, and Guthrie Volunteer Fire Department.
A large turnout is expected to celebrate the completion of the new Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department and show appreciation for the volunteer firefighters who regularly risk their lives to ensure the safety of others.
The event is also a sign of the resiliency of the community.
Donations may be sent to Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 13096, Sissonville, WV 25360.
Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1246.