PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- Pittsfield Fire Chief Jason White sees a planned new building as a better way to serve the community -- and a chance for the community to put its mark on the building with memorial bricks.
The department hopes to raise $200,000 through the fundraiser, kicking off this week in connection with Saturday's 34th annual Firemen's Dance, to put engraved bricks ranging in size from 4 by 8 inches to 16 by 24 inches on the new fire station or dedicate a door.
"It's a big goal," White said, but donors "can design a brick however they want it to look. It's a way for people to give back to us, plus memorialize a family member or themselves to show they supported us."
Plans call for placing 500 of the small bricks, available for $100, on the east side of the building. The north, or main, side of the building will have room for 183 of the small bricks available for $250 each, 75 8-by-8-inch bricks available for $500, five 12-by-24-inch bricks at a cost of $5,000 and four 2-by-4-foot panels, placed in the concrete apron at each bay door, for $10,000.
The new 6,200-square-foot building is expected to cost about $700,000.
The city has a $600,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture loan for the project, and the department is looking to raise $200,000 to cover the remaining cost of the building, as well as buy equipment like a generator and appliances for the kitchen.
White describes a new station as a need, not a want, for the department and the city.
"We've just physically outgrown where we're at. Trucks keep getting bigger," he said. "What this does for us is the trucks aren't stacked. We can have four trucks come out the door in unison. It's a little safer, and it gives us way more room."
The new building will have additional office space, a larger kitchen along with a meeting/training room and two handicapped-accessible restrooms, along with a drive-through bay large enough to accommodate a 52-foot ladder truck.
The current 60-year-old fire station will continue to house the brush truck and high-angle rescue equipment trailer for the department covering 170 square miles stretching past New Salem, toward Barry, to Detroit and almost to Independence Hill.
With the added space, "we actually should be able to grow back into one area as opposed to two or three," White said. "We've got equipment in other places for storage. Everything we use for fundraising could be stored here, centrally located. There's a lot of pros. There aren't many cons except it costs a lot of money."
White hopes to reach the fundraising goal within nine months and be in the new building by fall 2016, then look at updating equipment.
"We can't put a new pumper in the firehouse. They're all taller than they used to be, so they don't fit, or they're too long," White said.
More information about the memorial brick project is available online at pittsfieldfiredept.com.