Firehouse Set Up For New Recruits Greenhill Road Station 56 Is A State-of-the-art Building To Serve Its Growing Community.

Posted: August 17, 1999

WEST GOSHEN — The brick-and-stucco building has the arches typical of the old New York fire stations.

But there is nothing old-fashioned about the computer chips used instead of keys to unlock doors or the four-bay garage equipped with an exhaust system that sucks up the diesel fumes from vehicles and runs them through an underground filter.

``It's a state-of-the-art building and we're hoping it will be the boost needed to recruit more volunteers,'' said Rob Hagan, Goshen Fire Company vice president.

Greenhill Road Station 56 also should provide quicker response time to the community, said Ken Windle, company president. The $1.4 million building opened last week after four years of planning by the fire company.

Located at Boot and Greenhill Roads just off Route 202, the new 9,000-square-foot station replaces a cramped two-bay garage tucked away behind some trees off Greenhill Road near the entrance to Hershey's Mill.

Space was so inadequate that driving vehicles out of the garage during an emergency was a painstaking process, significantly reducing response time, Windle said.

``This building should take care of the needs of a growing community pretty far into the future,'' Windle said. The new station backs up to a residential area. It has no siren and calls are answered by pagers, he said.

It is accessible to the corporate and industrial parks that have sprung up along Route 202, Boot Road and Phoenixville Pike. It is also close to the largest adult community in Chester County, Hershey's Mill.

The company answers 2,000 ambulance calls a year and many come from Hershey's Mill, Windle said. It responds to about 750 fire calls a year and covers a 24-square-mile area in four municipalities - East Goshen, West Goshen, Willistown and Westtown.

Goshen Fire Company has another station on Ellis Lane - Station 54 in East Goshen is 12,000 square feet and has required four additions to accommodate growth in the area.

On a recent tour of the station, Hagan pointed out a crew room with shuffleboard and card tables, a big-screen TV, and a kitchen large enough for a dozen cooks. On the second floor there is a training room, bathrooms with tiled walls, and separate bunk rooms for male and female volunteers.

``No corners were cut,'' said Hagan, who oversaw the construction of the building for the fire company. ``We're going to be here for a long time and we wanted to get it right.''

Like most volunteer fire companies in Chester County, the Goshen company has seen the influx of new members remain steady or decline while population has skyrocketed.

In 1992, 17 volunteers answered each call, company officials said. In 1996, that number was eight. The company has about 80 volunteers, Hagan said.

When it was founded in 1950, the company served 8,284. Almost a half-century later, it serves close to 57,000 people.

``The building,'' Hagan said, ``is set up for men and women to hang out and sleep over if they want with the bunk and game rooms.''

The new station has been attracting a lot of interest.

``The response from the community has been fabulous,'' Hagan said. ``People will drive by, see the building and write us a check for $100.''

The company is selling bricks at $50 each to help raise more money to pay off the $400,000 mortgage on the building. Bricks are inscribed with names of residents or the names of family members who have died.

The remaining cost of construction for the building has been raised through corporate donations and contributions from the residents and townships the company serves, Hagan said.

Hershey's Mill, which will eventually consist of 1,700 homes, has a keen interest in the Goshen Fire Company. Hershey's Mill Homeowners Association contributed $125,000 to the new station, said Ed McFalls, vice president of the association.

``When you have a community that is generally populated with older people they recognize the importance of a first-class station,'' McFalls said.

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