Citizens’ Hose Company enlarging social hall, updating technology
Citizens’ Hose Company, Smyrna’s volunteer fire company, is building a new addition and updating the old offices at the firehouse on West Commerce Street.
“The new construction and rehabilitation of the building will help us grow with the times,” said Chris Hudson, the company’s public information officer and a past president.
The new space will add 8,000 square feet, bringing the fire company’s total space to 28,818 square feet which includes the metal pole building in back of the main building, he said.
The last time the main building was updated was 1986 when bingo was the fire company’s primary fundraiser. With the rise of casinos in Delaware, attendance at bingo decreased and the fundraiser ended.
Renting the social hall became a more important source of funds, but the fire company was at a disadvantage. Not only did the hall have less capacity than some venues, it was in the shape of an “L” which wasn’t as appealing to some people who were considering renting the space for weddings, conferences or parties, Hudson said.
The larger space will also help in emergency situations as a command center.
“In the case of a major weather incident or hurricane, we will now have sufficient space for the National Guard should they need to utilize our building along with our membership,” Hudson said.
The building plan will bring the fire company up to speed with the latest technology, too.
“Our rooms were outdated with old technology,” Hudson said. “In 1986 we didn’t have any computers. Now everything is tracked online. The offices will be much more conducive to the members and officers who use them.”
Hudson said the members have discussed the idea of expansion for many years, but it wasn’t until the last two or three years that they seriously started pursuing the proposal and then hired an architect to draw up plans. They gave the architect a list of needs and wants along with a budget and a map of where the new section of the building could go.
Construction started June 20.
“Currently we are on schedule, looking to have the project wrapped up this spring, 2021,” Hudson said.
The addition takes up some former parking spaces; however, the loss should be minimal.
“We are going to reconfigure our parking lot,” Hudson said. “Previously our spots were parallel to the building. Our new parking lot will feature angled spots, allowing us to better utilize the space so more people can park onsite for events.”
He said two parking spaces will be lost because fuel tanks had to be relocated.
The project is being financed through a bank loan.
“Fortunately, rates are at historic lows which helped us tremendously,” Hudson said. “Some funds which are being spent on the construction came from fundraising efforts as well as long-term savings. We did get two grants, an LED lighting grant through DNREC as well as a State of Delaware historical preservation grant.”
Donations and volunteers welcome
Citizens’ Hose Company is conducting its annual fund drive through the end of the year. Tax-deductible donations can be sent through the Paypal link on the website, www.citizenshosecompany.com or by mailing a check to Citizens’ Hose Company, PO Box 97, Smyrna, DE 19977.
Volunteers are also needed, not only to assist at emergencies for which training is involved, but also to help with fundraisers and activities at the firehouse. For info, see the website, www.citizenshosecompany.com.
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