Residents liked what they saw as they got a look inside the new fire hall for the Ionia Volunteer Fire Company on Saturday (July 28) during an open house.
The fire hall is 7,000 square feet with four truck bays for the district’s three active fire trucks and its antique white fire truck that is very recognizable at parades during area fire department carnivals. There is also storage space in the truck bay area, a spacious meeting room, a dispatch room and two smaller rooms. There is still some work to be done, including finishing the station’s kitchen. The new fire hall replaces one that burned in a fire on July 28, 2015. That fire, which happened about 3:15 a.m., caused part of the station’s roof to collapse after flames fully engulfed the building and Ionia wound up needing the help of about eight area departments to quash the blaze.
“I wouldn’t wish that (the fire) on my worst enemy,” stated Chief Lynn Parrish, whose father was a member of the department when it was first formed in 1954, during the open house. “We needed additional space with the old fire hall, but the fire was tough for the community and the department. Members of the department built the old fire hall in the 1950s and an addition in the 1970s. Thankfully, we managed to save the trucks, much of our gear and the American flag which flew over the fire hall the night of the fire. No lives were lost and no one was hurt and that is the main thing.”
A GoFundMe page to help the small department of about 25 active members was set up to take donations to help the department rebuild. Donations came from residents within the department’s border, citizens from outside the fire company’s boundary, other organizations and other fire departments as well as through fundraisers.
For the first six months after the fire, Ionia operated out of neighboring fire departments as Mendon and East Bloomfield’s fire departments housed the Ionia trucks. Department members put up a pole barn to house the equipment, but struggles with the insurance company over paying for it led to New York State Senator Rich Funke stepping in to help.
Following two years of tough negotiations with the insurance company for a settlement, an agreement was finally struck last August that led to construction of the new fire hall. Demolition of what remained of the old fire hall took place last September with work to build the new station house beginning in October. Construction work took place through the winter and the department officially moved into the building on May 14.
“We are very grateful to everyone who has helped us over the past three years,” Parrish said.