Ideally, Granite Falls’ volunteer Fire Department would have held this past Thursday’s Open House at a brand new firehall, but given the long list of city projects in need of funding and a pervasive shaky economic climate nationwide, buying new was out of the question. So, the 31 member crew considered their alternatives and did what they do best, volunteering the departments own savings and the firemen’s own time and energy to create a facility that meets their needs, so that they can better serve the community’s.
Those that turned out for the social gathering were treated to a few snacks and a tour of the upgraded facility. Capping off the evening was a Jaws of Life demonstration wherein a handful of fireman deftly dismantled a Dodge minivan in surprisingly short order.
But for all the tearing down, the evening was really about what the department had managed to build up, and, according to decade long fireman Eric Soine, the renovations are like “night and day ... something we’re all very proud of,” he said.
Signs of the restoration begin with the very entry itself, as the entrance and all other doors have been replaced. Stepping into the hallway leading to the meeting room, feet fall upon new flooring that is complimented by a new coat of interior paint and window blinds.
An ancillary kitchen and bathroom have also received the treatment, again getting new doors, to go along with new tile, sinks and countertops that provide their respective areas with a much improved polish. Meanwhile, the department’s former storage room was gutted to make way for a tidy little office, something that Assistant Fire Chief Craig Opdahl says has all but become a necessity with governments’ seemingly ever increasing requirement of more paper work.
Back inside the meeting room, one is able to easily observe how colors of black, blue and grey are used in partnership with Granite Falls fire truck orange to create a color scheme that ties the facility together and gives a nod to aesthetics.
A new wall-sized mural, designed by local artist Tamara Isfeld, wins the award for most eye catching of the new additions. Her painting, based off a photograph taken by former Frozen at Time owner Scott Dreier and featured on the cover of Fire Chiefs Magazine, depicts fireman Shawn Flynn walking out from a ball of flames.
Otherwise, there are a number of other details that serve to bolster the facility’s new ambiance while making evident the overall pride of the department. Decals on the doors and designs within the floor mats feature GF Fire insignias, old fire hoses border door frames and hanging on the walls are homages such as photographs of former fire crews or the rare piece of artwork that was donated to the department on behalf of late, former fireman Steve Hubert, by his wife, Sherilyn.
Page 2 of 2 - Save $2,200 that the city forked out for asbestos abatement, fire department fundraising and elbow grease covered the entirety of the estimated $35,000 that it would have cost to perform the renovation. Of that sum, $15,000 was paid out to cover equipment and material cost while $20,000 was saved through the use of donated labor.
City Manager Bill Lavin, for one, was impressed with the accomplishment.
“They saw a need and made it happen,” he said. “I think it’s a tremendous effort on their part to put that much expertise into upgrading the room, and it looks fabulous. There’s got to be a lot of talent on the department to make a project such as that happen.”