BONNERS FERRY — The South Boundary Fire Protection District has been protecting its community for many years, and as the community grows, they are growing as well.
“We love our little community but things keep growing and we always try to stay ahead of the growth so we can offer the best service possible with the funds available,” said South Boundary Fire Chief Tony Rohrwasser.
The District is currently working on grants, as well as accepting donations, and budgeting their funds in order to build a new Fire Station Administration and Community Building. They have started an account dedicated specifically to the Naples Building Fund.
“This year we plan to break ground on our new venture,” said Rohrwasser. “This proposed building will be located on the existing site of the church.”
Next month the Fire District will put the Naples Church up for bid.
“The building is slowly deteriorating and we have not found any interest in the community to rebuild it,” explained Rohrwasser. “So it will go for bid to either move or dismantle the building.”
Rohrwasser said that priority will go to anyone who wants to move it, since the original foundation that was made of logs in 1928, when the church was constructed, is slowly disintegrating.
The expansion plan has been in the works for a few years, trying to find the best way to accomplish it without disrupting community services. The District has a need to house more apparatus as well as to meet the growing needs of the new missions they have taken on, along with addressing the issue of much-needed storage space.
Although plans were drawn to add on to the existing station, it was realized that by building a new administration and community building, they could remove the offices and the training/community room out of the existing building, and use that space to add two more apparatus bays, along with more space for storage.
“This plan would turn the main building into primarily equipment, and all personnel would be in the new building, which would have no diesel engines to affect personnel,” said Rohrwasser.
Twelve years ago, an addition was added to the station, with the idea of opening up a room that would not only be used for training, but also for the public and non-profit organizations in the community.
“This has become a much bigger thing than originally planned,” said Rohrwasser. “There are many regular events happening such as 4-H meetings, Soup’s On, Helping Hands, AA, Church meetings and dinners, Water District meetings, CPR classes, Karate classes and it has been incorporated into school evacuation drills just to name a few.”
The old church has also housed the food bank since its beginning and acted as a supply post for the American Red Cross. However, the proposed two story building will have room for both of them, with the food bank into the main level. Also on the main floor, will be a slightly larger training/community room, a kitchen, and restrooms. The second floor will feature Fire Station Offices, resident living quarters, a common area with kitchen, and exercise facilities.
“The station in Naples is a good central location within the district and also very close to the highway making it a fast response to most places that we have mutual and automatic aid agreements with,” explained Rohrwasser.
The plan is to begin the project in spring, and take it as far as the current funding allows.
“We have received some donations and funding already, including $5,000 from TransCanada Gas,” said Rohrwasser.
Another means of funding came from the sale of Christmas trees by donation, highlighted during the Naples Holiday Festival that took place on Dec. 9. The proceeds were split three ways this year, between the Naples Food Cupboard, the South Boundary Firefighters Association, and the Naples Building Account.
“Every year, for quite a time now, the Bonners Ferry Nursery has donated trees to the Firefighters Association,” said Rohrwasser, “and Michael Powers, a firefighter and employee of Bonners Ferry Nursery, has spearheaded this event and also donated his own personal trees from his property so we can sell them by donation to raise money for the Naples Community.”
The total raised was $1,874.75, which is the highest amount that they have made for the Christmas tree sales. The two portion of the sales in the amount of $624.92 each, was presented by check to Patty Kosters of the Naples Food Cupboard, and to Rohrwasser for the Building Account on Jan. 31 by South Boundary Fire Association President Michael Powers.
“We want to thank to community for purchasing the trees during the holiday season,” said Powers.
“We didn’t have as many trees as before,” said Rohrwasser. “People donated more money this year than they did in the past for the same kind of trees.”
The generosity of the community is evidence of their support for the fire district and what they do.
“This, unfortunately may be the last year for this unless more trees are donated for us to cut,” said Rohrwasser, explaining that the money is usually a big boost to the food bank during an important time of the year.
As Naples and the surrounding community continues to grow, South Boundary Fire Protection is doing their best to stay a step ahead, to be ready to protect people during their time of need, as well as providing a centralized area for the public and organizations to come together.