State College

Boalsburg Fire Company open house helps unveil renovations

Noah Clouser, 3, sprays a fire hose with the help of Boalsburg Fire Company volunteer Adam Watkeys during the Boalsburg Fire Company fire prevention open house and building expansion project dedication on Sunday, October 5, 2014.
Noah Clouser, 3, sprays a fire hose with the help of Boalsburg Fire Company volunteer Adam Watkeys during the Boalsburg Fire Company fire prevention open house and building expansion project dedication on Sunday, October 5, 2014. CDT photo

Adam Gosa Jr.’s eyes lit up when junior firefighter Adam Watkeys handed him the fire hose.

Gosa Jr.’s small arms wrapped around the hose, which he aimed at 5-foot tall, one dimensional wooden house. The force of the water that surged out rocked the 3-year old back for a moment, but Watkeys steadied the hose to successfully put out an imaginary fire.

Watkeys helped dozens of children fulfill the childhood fantasy of putting out a fire during the 20th annual Boalsburg Fire Company open house.

Adam said he didn’t know if he wanted to be a firefighter.

“Right now, I think he’s just aspiring to be in kindergarten someday,” Adam Gosa Sr., of Boalsburg, said.

This year’s open house was special because a ribbon cutting was held to dedicate the fire house’s $1.7 million expansion and renovation project. About 3,000 square feet of the fire house was renovated, and 2,500 square-feet was added to the existing building.

The project, funded by a dedicated fire protection tax and fundraisers, was completed in April.

“Without the community, this isn’t possible,” said Capt. Greg Alters.

The project resulted in new bunking quarters, a kitchen, lounge area, administrative offices, fire apparatus storage space and equipment storage space. New HVAC and sprinkler systems were also installed.

Ed Mann, the state fire commissioner, said the improvements will be a great benefit to the community.

“When the pager goes off for firefighters in the middle of the night to go out they got to get dressed, get here and get the fire apparatus out the door,” Mann said. “That’s called scramble time, and the state average is five to six minutes to respond to emergencies. Now, with this facility, you can have a scramble time of about one minute, because firefighters will already be here.”

The fire company is still coordinating overnight crews to stay at the firehouse. An overnight crew of six to eight members stays overnight every couple days.

Alters said he wants to eventually have crews on-hand at all times.

“It’s a matter of getting everyone in at times that work well for them, and over time our goal is to have people here 24/7,” Alters said.

The fire company also hopes the new facilities encourage more people to apply to become a firefighter.

“We’ve seen an increase in applications and firefighters in the last six months, six people, which is higher than normal,” said firefighter Norm Spachman. “We built this for the present community, but we also built it for the next generation of firefighters and people living in the community.”

Jack Mylin, 7, said he’d like to become a firefighter.

“I think it’d be fun,” Mylin, of Boalsburg, said.

His application will have to be put in storage for a few years, but they now have the space to do so.

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