Chester VFD expanding

CHESTER – Not every volunteer fire department in West Virginia has the luxury to undertake construction projects. Then again, not every volunteer fire department has the Fall Bash.

The Chester Volunteer Fire Department’s annual fundraiser, one of the biggest of its kind in the state, has generated enough revenue that the department can now afford to build an addition for storage space, Chief John Hissam said.

“It takes time and money to do it,” Hissam said. “This is the kind of thing the fire department spends its (Fall Bash) money on, to better the department and the community.”

Work on the garage and storage addition, which is being added to the rear of the fire department, began in June and is expected to continue through November, Hissam said. But planning began about two years ago.

Hissam said the need for more storage space became evident soon after the old Chester City Hall was demolished in 2008.

“We lost a lot of storage space then,” he said.

The current fire station dates back to 1970, and a remodeling project in 2005 added a two-story building at the rear of the station, Hissam said. Even though that addition included storage space, its capacity hasn’t kept up with the growth of the department, Hissam said.

“We’ve got stuff stacked everywhere in the basement right now. It’s all jumbled up,” he said.

The new addition, being built by Juszczak Construction, will feature a three-bay basement and an upstairs storage area that is connected to the 2005 building. The basement will include a 12-foot ceiling, a wash bay and an all-concrete ceiling. The latter is needed, Hissam said, to keep the building waterproof.

The bays will house the department’s rescue boats and hovercraft, he said.

Hissam said the 45-by-47-foot addition will cost the department $150,000, all of which has been privately raised. The net gaming income from the annual Fall Bash covers about 80 percent of the fire department’s budget. In 2012, it raised $325,000.

This year’s Fall Bash is scheduled for Sept. 20-21 at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort. Tickets are sold out.

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