All spruced up: Fire Station 6 plans open house on Saturday

By Alex Bridges

Warren County’s makeover of the former Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department continues with a recruitment drive and an open house.

The county Department of Fire and Rescue Services plans to open Station 6 to the community beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday. Chief Richard Mabie said he hopes the open house might attract potential recruits from the Shenandoah Farms area. Paid firefighters assigned to the station have worked for more than a month to improve the building.

“They’ve got that place looking really good now,” Mabie said Wednesday. “We decided to go ahead and open it up to the community to come down and take a look.”

The station will put its emergency vehicles out on display. Staff performed maintenance on the vehicles to make them ready to respond to emergencies, Mabie said.

“We’ve done a lot of painting and stuff on the inside to make it more livable,” Mabie said, adding that the building also has new paint on the outside.

But Mabie also said he hopes the open house can draw more interest from potential volunteers.

“We’re just getting our feet wet,” Mabie said.

The recruitment drive so far has attracted 10 applicants and the department recently approved six people for membership, five of whom served as volunteers with the previous organization. The county fire department is overseeing the recruitment effort and conducts the process in the same way for volunteers as the department does for paid firefighters. Applicants are reviewed by the career staff at the station as well as by the department administration, Mabie explained.

“We’re not 100 percent sure of what direction we’re going to go in right now,” Mabie said. “The biggest thing we want to do is get the word out that we’re looking for volunteers. A whole lot of it depends on if we can raise volunteers to where they become response-ready and manage themselves from that respect.”

The department is in the process of putting the volunteers with the paid fire and rescue staff at the station.

Long-term plans have not yet been finalized.

“It may be that this is a unique model for volunteer fire stations, that is for the county to own and maintain everything where these guys can concentrate on training and running calls,” Mabie said.

The chief said he’s seen community support for the department’s efforts. People have dropped off vegetables at the station for the firefighters. Residents have sat down and talked with the firefighters at the nearby Jim’s Country Store.

“We’re going to see how much of that community support transfers over into volunteerism,” Mabie said.

Warren County dissolved the Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department in mid June. The county fire department took over the station at 6363 Howellsville Road in Clarke County as well as the equipment and vehicles. The county agency immediately assigned paid fire and rescue workers to the station to continue providing emergency service to the community.

The county seized control of the station property through an order issued by Clarke County Circuit Court Judge John Wetzel Jr. A date for a hearing in the case has been scheduled for Aug. 14.

In dissolving the volunteer organization, the county removed the name used by the station for decades. The facility is now referred to as Warren County Fire and Rescue Station No. 6. Paid staff remain assigned to the station 24-7.

Staff also began working on improvements at the station that included cleaning up around the facility and repainting the building. Mabie pointed out that the station receives fewer calls for service during the day than others in Warren County. Less activity gave staff more time to spend on improving the station.

“They’ve been eager to make the day go by,” Mabie said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com