By Vicky Taylor
The Public Opinion
HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, Pa. — For 50-plus years, volunteers at the Newburg-Hopewell Fire Company got by in a former two-room schoolhouse that was initially supposed to be only a temporary home.
Now the company is preparing to move to a new, state-of-the-art, 16,000-square-foot building that will provide space to grow for a long time to come.
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Members anticipate a move to the new facility next month.
"We've been cramped in such small quarters for so long that it is almost like a dream to think about what we can do with 16,000 square feet of space," said Fire Chief Ed Hoover.
One thing the company will be able to do is park its firefighting equipment under one roof.
"We now have three pieces in the main fire house, some in storage sheds, and one piece even housed in the Hopewell Township municipal building," Hoover said. "I doubt that most people in the community know exactly what we have, and have certainly never seen the entire fleet together at the same time."
Another benefit of the new fire house is that the company will no longer have to buy its new equipment according to the space available at the old building.
The new facility will have four large drive-through bays with an equipment area, Hoover said. The building is environmentally friendly, with such green features as geo-thermal heat.
In addition to the equipment area, the new station will have a training-community room, a dispatch room, separate quarters for both line officers and elected officers, and a lounge where firefighters can relax and socialize between calls. No longer will officers and committees have to meet in the same cramped room that firefighters are using for a lounge and kitchen.
Hoover said that with the drive-through bays in the new firehouse, equipment drivers will not have to try to back engines and tankers into a tight space, one piece at a time.
Still, the former firehouse has served the community for more than 50 years, and there is at least a little sentiment attached to it. Hoover said he thinks the company will probably convert it into a community facility where the company can conduct social events.
The big social event in the company's immediate future, however, will be at the new facility: An open house and dedication planned for this summer, according to company president Ruth Hoover.
"We've been blessed with overwhelming community support in this endeavor," she said. "So this project is not about us, but about the community."
The $1.8 million project has been financed partly with a $850,000 donation by Hopewell Township. The rest of the cost was financed with a bank loan. The company is in the middle of a capital campaign to raise money to repay that loan.
The latest fundraising effort is the sale of engraved bricks to be placed around the flagpole at the new fire station.
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