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Barrett overhauls 30-year-old firehouse

Two years ago, Chief Grover Cleveland thought it would take until at least 2023 to complete the renovations necessary to repair Barrett Township’s 30-year-old firehouse.

Thanks to a $148,270 grant the volunteer fire company received last year, they were able to complete all of that work in less than 12 months.

“It’s really nice and I’m glad we were able to do it without taking money from the township,” Cleveland said. “It helps out with training, cleanliness. We’re able to have two things going on at once.”

The Barrett Township Volunteer Fire Company had a laundry list of items they wanted to see completed to return the building to its former glory. They needed to replace the entire roof, install a new heating system, repair the engine bay floor, add a divider for the common area, install new garage doors, and give the inside of the building a fresh coat of paint.

According to Cleveland, fire company officials were anticipating to begin applying for funds from the township for these items starting in 2020 and again every year until 2023. By having funds to do the work in a more abbreviated timeframe, they were able to avoid the possibility of discontinuing services.

“We could have possibly gone out of service, we’ve prevented that. It’s cleaner and it’s safer for the guys,” Cleveland said.

The most expensive pieces of the renovation project were the new, epoxy-coated engine bay floor and roof replacement; combined, the two items took $70,000 of the $148,270 the company was awarded.

While a new coat of paint and a divider may seem like aesthetic additions, installing and repairing the engine bay floor, the heating system, and new garage doors were necessary safety improvements, according to Cleveland. The old concrete floor was not sealed and beginning to crack, the antiquated heating system meant water in hoses would sometimes freeze during the winter months, and the garage doors lacked sensors and other safety features.

Undergoing a major renovation project was stressful, especially for members who built the firehouse more than 30 years ago, but the revamped space will help them better serve the community.

“You have to remember they built this, we built this. Their blood, heart and sweat is in the building,” Cleveland said. “When we were under construction, it was a little overwhelming ... but to see the overall outcome I believe they are happy with everything.”

Cleveland was adamant that the completion of the renovations was a true community effort. Cleveland pointed out that Jim Siglin, member of the company’s building committee, and Joseph Bender, a local contractor, were essential to completing the project in a timely manner to avoid shutdowns.

In addition to Siglin and Bender, Cleveland said that Pamela Gardsy, Barrett Township Secretary, and State Representative Rosemary Brown (R-189) were integral in securing the Local Share Account grant. At the time it was awarded, Gardsy said the $148,270 grant was one of the most expensive in township history.

“We were surprised just because it is one of the biggest grants we have ever applied for, the volunteer fire company though is such a vital part of our community. Obviously other people have needs but what they do is such a fabulous thing,” said Gardsy, of the grant in 2018.

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