SHIPPENSBURG — Members of the Vigilant Hose Company and Shippensburg Emergency Medical Services will pick up and move on Saturday in symbolic journey.
The Shippensburg Emergency Services Building at 20 Walnut Bottom Road, Shippensburg, will hold an official grand opening Saturday. (Public Opinion, Markell DeLoatch)
Following a brief ceremony to close the building at 1 p.m., crews and apparatuses will leave from the fire company’s current home at 129 E. King St. They will parade down Orange Street toward the new Shippensburg Area Emergency Services Building at 20 Walnut Bottom Road, a facility that will house the fire company and EMS. Some members will ride the fire trucks and others will walk and carry axes, flags and other items along the symbolic journey.
“We didn’t want us to be just hopping in a fire truck and going down,” said Megan Silverstrim, a spokesperson for the fire company. “Our members will accompany our (apparatuses) to our new home. It’s our symbolic way of picking up and moving on.”
According to Shippensburg Fire Chief Randy O’Donnell, EMS has already began shifting operations to the new building, but will participate with the fire company for opening-day activities.
Continuing with the symbolism will be the fire company’s act of getting its vehicles into the five bays it’s allotted at the new facility.
“Our members will then push the (apparatuses) into the bays. Everybody will have a hand on (an) apparatus,” Silverstrim said.
After the group’s arrival, the flag carried down from the old fire station will be raised onto the flag pole at the new building. Also, three separate ribbon cutting ceremonies will take place: One on the fire company’s side of the building, another on the EMS’s side, and the third in the area that the two will share.
Present will be Mayor Bruce Hockersmith and former Mayor Tim Costanza and officers from both organizations. Speakers will be people who have been involved with the project along the way, including those who realized the need for a new facility 20 years ago, Silverstrim said.
The public is encouraged to attend the opening ceremony at the new facility, and will be welcomed in for tours. According to O’Donnell, maps will be available inside and personnel will be on duty to answer questions.
“There’s just a lot of interest in the building,” he said. “(The public has) seen it be erected in the past years. There’s an interest to see what’s there.”
Tour-takers will have the opportunity to see the facility’s many features.
Besides the areas required for each agency to operate, the 30,000-square-foot, $6.3 million facility includes a training area, study room for volunteers who are in school, a museum that will house the 500-pound station bell, gym and bunk areas among other things.
Guests may also be interested in the several eco-friendly features including a 10,000-gallon rainwater collection system that will be used for emergency vehicles, high efficiency HVAC system, LED lighting and occupancy sensors, and the use of local materials in construction.
“The building was designed to last the community for 100 years,” O’Donnell said.
Expansion of community outreach was at the forefront of the design scheme.
“It’s a much roomier place for people to come in and understand what we do,” Silverstrim said. “It’s truly not just our building, but it’s the community’s building.”
Shippensburg emergency responders will spend Saturday afternoon celebrating the opening of their new workplace, but plans are set to ensure the community does not go without emergency services. Taking over calls during the afternoon for the fire company will be Company 33 out of Cumberland County; the EMS will have another company taking over for them as well, Silverstrim said.
“Our members are free to enjoy the day and enjoy the fruits of their labors,” she added.
The idea for a new facility first brewed nearly 20 years ago, and the actual plan has been underway for a portion of that. The buildings housing the fire company and the EMS were both inadequate for their purposes for a while, so to save time and resources the two organizations decided to join together in the search for a new site.
“We were trying to be responsible with land use, responsible with finances,” Silverstrim said.
Construction began late last year.
—————————— Amber South can be reached at email@example.com, 262-4771, or follow her on Twitter @ShipNewsGirl.