Background for the On The Road series.
Back in late March, my first route stop was a firehouse on outskirts of the city. Started my day by setting off the intruder alarm with the opening of a door. Since the door was unlocked I was hoping to find someone inside – no such luck. I went back outside thinking it best to greet the police that would eventually show up, but after a 20 minute wait with no responders I left to take care of two nearby scheduled stops and then return.
Arriving back at the firehouse I noticed a car that wasn’t parked there before. As I got out of my car, a man talking on a cell phone came out of the building and I could hear him reprimanding someone for not doing a good job securing the building before leaving the night before.
When he finished his call, I raised my hands in the air as I approached and accepted responsibility for setting off the alarm. He laughed and said it wasn’t my fault, the door should have been locked. Introductions revealed he was the party I was supposed to meet, and Ed led me into the building and up to his office.
As I had noticed on my search for someone in the building earlier, it was apparent this building was no longer an active firehouse, and was undergoing a substantial restoration. With the exception of a modern full glass door on the side of the building, the outside appearance looked like it must have on the first day it opened for business, about 80 or 90 years ago. The interior had a more contemporary flare, the second floor sectioned into large offices with modern furniture and cosmetics, and a beautiful, polished hardwood floor throughout. The outer walls were brick and the originally sized tall windows made the rooms bright.
I remarked to Ed how great the renovations looked and gladly briefed me on what the firehouse would be used for going forward. The retired building was to be the new home of the Fire Fighters Association and also serve as a place for the association and local community for meetings and events. I also learned that the renovations to the interior were all the work of city firemen on their own time. After completing our business, Ed gave me a tour of the work done (and near completion) as he led me back outside.
The parts of the first floor I had not seen on my earlier visit were equally as impressive as on the second floor. The section behind the large doors in the front of the building, behind which the fire trucks spent their idle time, was now a community room with a large magnificent bar matching the theme of the flooring upstairs. In rooms behind this area was a large kitchen, a meeting room, and storage space.
I ended up spending more time than I should have with Ed, being on the job and all, but he was a very nice guy and I enjoyed meeting him. The visit to the firehouse started with an unnerving situation but ended up very well.