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The new two-story fire station on Thomas Jefferson Road, which opened in early 2012, still lacks living quarters.
The (Lynchburg) News & Advance | File 2011
Construction crews work on the new Forest Volunteer Fire Department in Bedford County.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Two years after the construction of the Forest Volunteer Fire Department, the building remains incomplete.
About $500,000 is needed to finish construction.
The new station, which opened in early 2012, has been very well-received among volunteers and supporters, despite the lack of living quarters, Chief Nick Thomas said.
“So far it’s great for us,” he said. “It’s a lot nicer, a lot bigger. We’ve got more space to utilize now. Everybody’s been thrilled with it.”
The 43-member department responds to more than 500 calls per year and serves Bedford County’s highest-populated community.
For just more than 50 years, the department operated out of a station on nearby Burnbridge Road. The site, which now houses Apocalypse Ale Works, had limited space.
The 26,000-square-foot two-story fire station on Thomas Jefferson Road has twice the space, making it much easier to maneuver vehicles, Thomas said.
“We are in and out of here right often,” he said. “It’s a whole lot more user -friendly.”
With the move comes greater visibility on a busy stretch of road connecting U.S. 221 and U.S. 460. Thomas said he estimates the department has picked up about a dozen new volunteers since the move and the facility constantly draws in members.
A makeshift lounge with a television, chairs and tables overlooks the bay area. The two-story wing is unfinished but will one day house a kitchen, male and female bunk rooms, and a workout area.
There is a heavy presence of people performing duties and maintaining the site, Thomas said, but completing the living space would allow volunteers to stay overnight as well as improve training and other activities.
Volunteer Jared Staton said the windstorm that devastated central Virginia last summer is a perfect example of how living quarters could come in handy.
Volunteers responded to nonstop calls during the storm and subsequent power outages, he said. Being able to stay overnight would have helped to keep the station staffed around the clock.
“Plenty of guys would love to come up here and pull night duty,” Staton said. “We can’t do that unless you want to sleep in a chair.”
The station has bathrooms, showers and a generator on standby to deal with outages, he said, describing the station as “workable.”
“We’re making it,” he said.
Department meetings are held in the bay area, and the summer heat can make that a challenge, Thomas said. The next “big ticket” item is a heating and air conditioning system and sprinkler system, he said.
Much work recently has been put into exterior work, he said. Finishing sidewalks and paving the parking lot in the next few months will be a major improvement, he added.
The gravel lot presented challenges in moving the heavy trucks in and out of the bays during snow and rain. He said a paved lot would be much less of a headache this winter.
The department is still in full fundraising mode, finishing the building on a step-by-step basis. The first Fireman’s 5K fundraiser will be held at the station Aug. 24 at 8 a.m.
Another fundraising effort centers on brickwork below the recently placed flagpoles near the front entrance. The bricks are engraved with the names of donors. Thomas said blank ones can be removed and filled in with names of new donors.
“We can keep selling until we fill them out completely,” Thomas said of the bricks at the flagpole display.
Matt King, a rising junior at Liberty Christian Academy who lives a few miles from the station, volunteered recently to landscape the property work as part of an Eagle Scout project.
King said he visited local businesses and distributed fliers to raise about $2,500 to make improvements to the building’s exterior.
“They’re always going out saving peoples’ lives,” he said. “I thought it was something small I could do and help the community.”
Craig Brown, a volunteer, said the building’s accessibility is improved in the new location. He hopes the building will be completed within the next three to five years.
“We built this facility for 50 years,” Brown said. “We’re off to a wonderful start.”
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