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Marion firefighters building $2 million facility

May 21, 2001

Marion firefighters building $2 million facility



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


MARION, Pa. - Chris Henson is right when he says the volunteers in the Marion Volunteer Fire Co., "work hard to make things happen."

It's going to take a lot of hard work by the department's 25 or so active members to raise the $2 million to build and equip the company's new firehouse.

The 22,700-square-foot building is under construction behind Rutter's Farm Store on U.S. 11 across from the existing firehouse at 21 Colorado St. It will be finished in September, said Henson, fire company president.

Raising that kind of money will mean running more Longaberger basket auctions, the annual car show, working the Marion Festival and barbecuing thousands more chickens in the pit across from the old firehouse.

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The department got a tax-free $700,000 loan from a Chambersburg bank supported by township supervisors in Guilford and Hamilton. The fire department covers parts of both townships plus Interstate 81 from Exits 3 to 6. It's first-due area covers about five miles.

The members are also raffling $20 tickets on a big, red Ford F-150 pickup truck sitting in front of the firehouse, taking orders for $100 memorial bricks for the new building and selling $50 models of the department's first tanker truck.

A big wing behind the new firehouse will house the banquet room and bingo parlor. The volunteers will now be able to run large weekly bingo games they hope will go a long way to paying off the building.

The banquet room will be rented for weddings and private parties, Henson said.

The new building will have a commercial size kitchen, two smaller kitchens, offices, a meeting and training room, a lounge and game room, bunk rooms for men and women members and plenty of much needed storage space, Henson said.

The final payment on the five acres that the department bought for its new building will be paid this year, Henson said.

Not losing sight of the new firehouse's real purpose, Henson said it will have five truck bays instead of the three in the old building. Three of the five will have doors front and back so trucks can be driven in from the rear eliminating the need to back them in, said Eric Etter, captain of the department.

The department has two pumpers, a brush truck, a 1998 rescue squad unit and two ambulances, including a 2001 model.

Space in the existing firehouse is so cramped that the new ambulance shares back-to-back space in one bay with the big squad truck. The second ambulance sits in a cement block garage out back, Henson said.

"We've outgrown this building. To serve our area we need to expand," Henson said. "Times are changing. Fire departments need more specialized equipment."

Etter said the company has about 240 members. Only 25 or so, including six women, serve as active firefighters and on ambulance crews, he said.

According to a department history, the Marion Fire Department had humble beginnings in 1944. The handful of volunteers bought a used 1936 Ford truck and installed a pump on it. The truck and pump cost $509.78 cents. By comparison, the department's new rescue squad unit cost more than $400,000.

Henson said the old firehouse, built in 1953, may be sold.

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