CRANBERRY TWP — Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Department members reflected on the past and looked to the future at Saturday's open house to showcase the newly expanded Park Fire Station on Route 19.
Ed Hestin, fire department president, spoke about the honor the firefighters feel celebrating 60 years of service to the community.
An example of that commitment is Andrew Hack, who has been with the department for every one of those 60 years.
Hack attended the dedication and is still an active member.
When the original fire company, formed in 1959, needed a building, Hack and the other members had to raise the money and build the station with their own hands, Hestin said.
“We are thankful, these days, to have other means so we can focus on training and responding to fires,” Hestin said.
The unveiling of the new portion of the fire station included tours of the two-story structure and full basement. The expansion, which began in 2018, was part of a $1.6 million project and included a renovation at the Haine Fire Station.
The new space is designed to make spending time at the station more comfortable, productive and rewarding for volunteers.
With new overnight housing for volunteers, Chief Larry Clutter said department members will not only be able to rest in between serving the community and fulfilling their duties — particularly when bans of snow or thunderstorms are hitting the area — but it will also allow for quicker responses to emergency calls.
“I hope everyone can see a common theme of promoting members to treat the station like a family,” Clutter said.
Space on the first floor accommodates administrative offices, a kitchen, a conference room and several work rooms for preparing incident reports.
Those work rooms, complete with wireless Internet, can also be used by daytime volunteers who are able to do their regular jobs online, allow members to spend more time at the station.
The expansion is part of the township's effort to increase the number of volunteer firefighters, strengthen the department's sense of camaraderie and reduce response times, which currently average a little under 10 minutes.
In addition to improved areas for volunteers, a glass-enclosed exhibit room at the building's front showcases one of the fire company's first engines — a 1928 Pirsch pumper that was purchased from another fire department shortly after Cranberry's company was formed. It remained in active duty until 1967, according to the department's website. The pumper was later restored to showroom condition by fire company members under the leadership of firefighter Jim Cole.
Cole, Hestin, Clutter and other company leaders who spoke during the dedication ceremony extended thanks to their families, township supervisors and the community for their support of not only the expansion project but the volunteer fire department overall.
The company is hoping to design and implement a memorial space in front of the addition to Park Fire Station to honor deceased fire company members. Hestin said the space should be ready in time for the department to celebrate its 60th anniversary this summer.