SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Fire Chief Tim Gooch said he is excited for people to come see the new Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department when it opens next month. The station will replace the department's main building that was destroyed in a 2010 fire.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., visited the approximately $1.2 million station Monday as construction crews worked to finish the remaining projects before the station begins operations Nov. 17.
Gooch gave Capito a tour and told her of the department's mission of keeping the building's future in mind. Pray Construction, the project managers, designed the building in hopes it could be used for community events or to support a paid fire department one day, he said.
"We are proud of the building and we hope the community will be proud of it too," Gooch said. "This is really their building. We are just the caretakers."
The department's main station, three fire trucks and the majority of equipment, were destroyed in October 2010 in a fire caused by an electrical fault. The department has been functioning out of Charleston Auto ever since.
Brandon Brigsby, project manager with Pray Construction, said the new building is about 90 percent complete and crews have remaining electrical wiring and flooring to complete.
Capito said the new station is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Assistance to Fire Fighters Grant Program. The fire department previously had benefited from earmark legislation to buy equipment, she said.
"We don't do earmarks anymore because they were abused and overextended," she said. "We are living in a different world now, and funds are merit-based. Projects like this are going to get funded because they rise to the top."
Capito asked Gooch about the department's plans to bring on new members. He said there are about 34 full-time and seven junior volunteers and they are always recruiting. The department's challenge is finding volunteers who are willing to donate time and find a balance with their paying jobs.
Gooch said he began volunteering 39 years ago when he was 17 years old. The department needs younger volunteers to carry on the older generation's efforts, he said.
"We need people to serve the community because we are getting old," he joked.
Capito said there's more than $100 million left in the FEMA grant fund to benefit fire departments around the state.
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.