Pa. township fire station under construction

By Ashley Adams
The Evening Sun

PENN TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Traveling down Clover Lane, behind the shopping complex on Baltimore Street, construction workers steadily move ahead with their work, pushing aside dirt and getting the foundation complete.

Walls on the new building should be constructed soon and if all goes as planned the finished product should be complete by Aug. 15.

The Penn Township Volunteer Emergency Services is building a 30,285-square-foot station on a 4.5-acre parcel along Clover Lane. The department broke ground on the station in late October.

The station will have seven drive-through bays that will house 12 emergency vehicles. There will be an exercise room in the basement, bunks for the firefighters and a training room.

"It's smarter to have a fire station on the south end of town," said firefighter Erik Brown. "For the last two years we've been doing mutual aid with Hanover Borough for every call. It's good for the citizens and improves the fire service to the area to have a station there."

Currently, Brown said, the foundation for the two-story section of the building - where the living quarters are - has been laid and construction workers are working in the basement area. The footers for the apparatus area of the station were just recently dug.

Hopefully within the next two weeks, there should be some work being done on the above-ground portion of the station, Brown said.

Although it might look massive, Brown said the combined floorspace of the other stations the department owns - the Parkville station on Baltimore Street, Pennville on Frederick Street and the Penn Township Ambulance Club on Baltimore Street - have 32,395-square-feet of floor space.

The reason the new station is smaller, but still has plenty of room to house all the company's equipment, is because there is no social hall. Economically, Brown said it would have cost the company an additional $1 million, or $8,000 a month extra in mortgage payments, to build a social hall.

"It just wasn't feasible," Brown said.

All the other stations owned by the company are currently up for sale and the Ambulance Club might be sold soon. So, Brown said if the company wants to hold fundraisers, it will have to rent out other facilities in the local community, which is actually cheaper than building the social hall.

To pay for the $4.9 million station, Brown said the company is using the money from the sale of the other buildings and a bank loan.

Although the township commissioners agreed to be a "financial backer" for a $3.5 million loan, which saved the company $1 million because of a lower interest rate, Brown said the township is not dedicating any tax money to fund the station.

But the company still needs help from the community to raise funds to cover the cost of the new station.

"We hope businesses and citizens will step forward and help the volunteers out," Brown said.

The company is offering a Buy-A-Brick program and sponsor a bench or flag pole to help defray the cost of the new station. Monetary donations are always welcome.

And although $4.9 million sounds like a hefty price tag, Brown said the project is actually coming in $500,000 under budget.

"It is a big building but we didn't go overboard," Brown said. "We haven't had any problems construction-wise. Everything is going smoothly."

Brown said he understands the community might not think a new station was necessary, but it was the most economically feasible thing to do.

"We explored all options when it came to either renovating the current buildings or building a new station," Brown said. "We tried to find the most cost effective solution and every time it came to building a new station. The current stations are 60 years old and not energy efficient. They aren't conducive to handling 24/7 operations.

"A new station is going to be very beneficial to the community and is cost effective."


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