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New Lowber fire station nears completion

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 10:19 p.m.
Workers from Crosby Garage Doors in Greensburg install one of the doors at the new Lowber Volunteer Fire Department garage. Trucks have been stored at firefighters’ homes throughout the summer while construction is completed. Stacey Federoff | The Times-Sun

A new steel building is nearing completion that will serve as the Lowber fire department's new home, but fire Chief Brian Nicholls is glad it only has a concrete foundation.

“I've had enough of basements,” he said.

Cracks in the basement of the old building formed in February and a piece of concrete fell and hit a firefighter. Nicholls said the cause was never determined.

Insurance coverage was denied because it was deemed a “maintenance issue,” Nicholls said, so the members had to take out a loan to pay for the new building that measures 40- by 72-feet with three garage bays, lounge and equipment storage area.

“We just wanted enough room to be able to expand in the years to come, but didn't want to go too small or too big where we couldn't afford it either,” he said.

The new steel building was built on a vacant lot next to the old station, a part of 12 acres owned by the club that also maintains the social hall and sports fields along Lowber Road.

Without utilities, the building has cost $85,000. Nicholls said the department is boosting its fundraisers and hopes to pay off the $80,000 loan in 5 years before he anticipates needing to replace fire trucks.

Lowes home improvement store donated $1,500 for materials to build the lounge area, Lowber native Rick Halvey of Wall Electric donated his time to install wiring and Adam Kerber of Kerber Excavating donated his time to install plumbing.

“All our members are volunteering to help out any way possible,” Nicholls said.

Firefighters have even been storing the fire trucks at their homes over the last few months.

Last week, firefighters Nick Sewchok and Charlie Marsh were on-hand to help hang the door for the lounge area.

The Sewickley Township department members have all pitched in to make the best of a bad situation, said Sewchok, a trustee.

“We've gained a lot more space and now we've got a brand new building and these guys have been working their butts off,” he said.

Firefighters wanted to thank Sewickley Township supervisors, who approved $590 in EMS Tax funds for plumbing and electrical conduit at October's meeting, and Lowber residents for all their support.

The department has a spaghetti dinner scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday and a barbecue on Dec. 1, as well as wing night every Wednesday and Friday from 6 to 10 p.m., all at the social club on Lowber Road.

Nicholls said members plan on holding barbecues all winter long.

A holiday open house is planned for some time in the future so families in the community can see the new building firsthand, he said.

Before temperatures drop, the trucks will be moved to the new building as soon as they can be secured inside to avoid any frozen lines or pumps, Nicholls said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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