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2016-09-22

Medina VFD breaks ground on new complex

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

It was literally a hot time in the old town on Tuesday, Sept. 6, during the groundbreaking for the new Medina Volunteer Fire Department fire station. Firefighters, EMS personnel, board members, families and friends gathered just off Highway 16 North in the heart of the community to celebrate the station’s eventual home.
The location was hard fought after leadership of Orchard Park subdivision Property Owners Association gave a thumb’s down to the fire department relocating to their property. However, MVFD Director Fred Sides, owner of Triple S Construction, brokered a deal with longtime Medina residents, Vickie and Henry Adamietz.
Brokering a deal
“Fred didn’t know Henry when their discussions began,” explained Lee W. Bailey, president of the MVFD. “But eventually it came out that the Adamietz’s were willing to do an even swap – their property for the current fire station, located just down the road a bit. By the time the transaction was finalized, the couple had become part of our extended MVFD family.”
“We really wanted to help out the community,” Vickie Adamietz said in an interview. “We knew the fire department needed a larger building and we were looking to downsize. It was a perfect solution for everyone.”
In the spirit of old-fashioned small town camaraderie, everyone pitched in to make the deal happen. Travis Klaassen, owner of Big Rock Road Construction, renovated the fire station to create viable living spaces for the couple. “I couldn’t be happier with the result,” Vickie Adamietz said. “I’ve now got the walk-in closet I always dreamed about.”
Win-win exchange
And the deal allowed fire department personnel to concentrate on the new construction. “Now we don’t have to worry about selling the previous Highway 16 property and firehouse,” Bailey said.
The exchange also gave the department a piece of property that would satisfy their long term needs and a firehouse that will be viable for the next 20 to 25 years, according to Bailey.
“The property is 3.39 acres, which is sufficient for the larger station required to house a new 4,000 gallon fire truck, which is scheduled to be delivered late this month,” he said. “Our existing tanker is 44 years old and only has a capacity of 1,100 gallons.”
An average two-story house fire requires 11,000 gallons of water. The new tanker will allow Medina firefighters to provide significant volumes of water to a fire scene much more rapidly than the existing tanker.
The new tanker was partially funded by a $200,000 grant from the Texas Forest Service.
During an interview in May, when negotiations were ongoing for the Orchard Park property, Bailey said, “A new firehouse needs to be centrally located, close and accessible to the greatest density of homes and, most importantly, not in a flood zone. It floods quickly up here and we can’t be cut off.”
Flooding over Memorial Day weekend proved that to be true. Thankfully, no fires occurred in the department’s area that week.
New station stats
“Our new station will be 4,800 square feet with four drive-thru bays. The building will also include space for an office and storage,” Bailey said.
In the old firehouse, the largest bay was designed for an ambulance and measured just 29 feet – inadequate for the new 39-feet tanker truck. “Insurance requires that the tanker and equipment be fully enclosed and locked. To do that we had to build a bigger fire house,” Bailey explained.
He continued, “While the property and building are larger, the building can hold one additional truck over the existing station and adds the ability to accommodate larger, more modern fire equipment.
Work continues on the site and MVFD hopes to celebrate its grand opening in December. “We want to hold National Night Out on Oct. 2 on the building slab,” he said. Additionally, the department’s fundraising fish fry will make its debut at the new building this spring.
The department’s fundraising needs for the new firehouse and tanker truck total approximately $750,000. To date they have received a $200,000 grant from the Texas Forest Service and $45,000 from other contributors.
Financing for these two assets was provided by Texas Hill Country Bank in Bandera. The goal of the MVFD is to retire this debt as soon as possible through the support of local residents, landowners and businesses.
“Throughout all this effort, we strive to be good stewards of the grants and donations we receive and to spend the money wisely in serving and protecting the community,” Bailey said.
It also should be noted that the fire department receives no tax money from the county and utilizes only donations and grants for equipment and projects.
ISO volunteers
Currently, the MVFD serves 386 square miles within Bandera County, which amounts to 48 percent of the county – and less than one square mile has fire hydrants. The area is comprised of 1,036 residences and businesses with approximately 1,774 residents.
“We serve the largest area with the oldest equipment,” Bailey said in an earlier interview. “The increasing number of rural residences and the aging of our fire equipment has made it necessary for us to acquire the large new tanker that can take the fight to fire.”
Currently, Medina VFD consists of 16 firefighters, three are EMTs, five are junior firefighters and six directors. General membership is about 40 people.
“We’re seeking – and need – strong community financial support for this project,” Bailey said, adding, however, that contributions do not necessarily have to be strictly monetary.
“We’re actively recruiting more members,” he said. “We’re not only looking for firefighters and EMTs, but also for volunteers with computer experience, as well as those who would be available to assist with fundraising. If you have a skill of any kind, we can use it.”
Monthly meetings of the Medina Volunteer Fire Department are held at 7 pm, the third Thursday of each month at the Medina Community Center. “We always welcome residents to our meetings, even just for a visit” Bailey said.