PITTSTON TWP. — The volunteer fire department has been a staple in the township since the late 1940’s, but its members agree it’s time for an upgrade.
Thanks to a $275,000 Local Share Account (LSA) Grant, the fire department will destruct its current firehouse and construct a new one.
Fire Chief Tony Angelella Sr. and his son, Tony Angelella Jr., assistant fire chief, credit State Representative Mike Carroll with helping to acquire the grant, but Carroll insists it was a group effort.
“The Angelellas came to see me to highlight a need for an improvement to the volunteer fire department,” Carroll said. “Then Pittston Township, to their credit, the supervisors agreed to do the application on behalf of the fire department. So, none of this happens without the township supervisors saying they’re willing to go forward with this.”
Carroll continued by saying that once the supervisors signed off on acquiring the grant for the firehouse in November, he and Senator John Blake advocated for the grant.
The project is expected to cost around $500,000. Angelella Jr. said the fire department will also take out a loan and use fundraising to match the cost.
Angelella Sr. said the fire house has “outlived its usefulness.”
“You have to look at the town growing,” he said. “It’s really growing fast and for us to keep up with the equipment, it’s getting tougher to do that all the time.”
The 3,600 square foot facility currently serves as a meeting room for the 60 volunteer fire fighters, holds two emergency vehicles, has a sitting room with couches and a kitchen.
Angelella Jr. said, despite what seems like a lot of room, the fire house is missing several things current fire departments need today.
“We don’t have any kind of training facilities or training rooms,” he said. “We don’t have any (decontamination) areas if the firefighters come back from a bad fire or a bloody call — there’s nowhere for them to get cleaned up.
“Meeting facilities, we’re meeting in a garage, and we don’t have a business office. We really don’t have a good records room for operations such as training records, vehicle maintenance records. We really have no place for that.”
The new firehouse is expected to be 5,000 square feet and will include a driver’s room, a storage room, a business room, a meeting room, a new kitchen, a bunk room for fire fighters to sleep in and a training room that can be used by other departments.
Obtaining a new firehouse has been on the volunteer fire department’s list for years, said Angelella Jr.
“It’s been talked about for years about having a new place,” he said. “Our call volume, really in the last four to five years has doubled and tripled. So, it’s gotten to the point now where we need something.”
Work to demolish the current building is expected to begin this summer, according to Carroll, with the project expected to be completed by the end of the year, weather depending.
Angelella Jr. said one emergency vehicle will be stored at the department’s Suscon firehouse and another will be squeezed in between the fire trucks during the process.
With a new building on the horizon, he. is looking forward to having more room to work.
“(I’m looking forward) to having a place for everything and being able to do what we need to do on a daily basis,” he said. “Hold the training classes, manage the records, be able to have a meeting, and have an energy-efficient building to help reduce our cost. This building isn’t energy efficient instillation wise, lighting, the heat systems — the energy-efficiency is nowhere close to being green and it’s costing us money to run it.”