Christmas came early for the Victor Volunteer Rural Fire Department.
After setting aside funds for a decade, gathering generous donations from the community and taking out a bank loan for $230,000, the fire department recently purchased a new facility on six acres of land just south of town.
But the good news didn’t stop there.
Last week, a very generous couple from the community donated funds that, coupled with other donations from the community, were enough to pay off the entire bank loan and the renovations to the building.
“It’s been a lot of different pieces coming together just right to make all of this possible,” said Victor Fire Chief Scott Hackett. “That tells me that the community thought this project was needed and the right thing to do.”
On Friday, a group of volunteers was busy working on tearing out walls and beginning the carpentry work needed to turn what once was a small manufacturing business into a new fire hall that will serve the community for generations to come.
Orange paint on the west wall marked the places where new bay doors will eventually raise and lower to accommodate the department’s fire engines. An excavator will soon be digging the line that will connect the new fire hall with the city sewer.
“Everything seems to be coming together just right,” Hackett said. “Or at least the stumbling blocks have been minimal so far.”
Ravalli County officials are taking a look at the old fire hall to see if it might be something they could put to use. Hackett said there have been others who have also expressed an interest.
It’s been quite a ride since the fire department first presented its initial plan to the community last May.
Back then, the idea was to add on to the current fire hall to make room for equipment that was already squeezed tight into the old building in the center of town.
It didn’t address the challenges the department faced for parking during an emergency or future expansion in an area that had already been developed.
After reading a newspaper article about the proposed project, a community member stepped forward with an offer to sell his existing commercial building and six acres of land just south of town at a price below the appraised value to the fire department.
With that property in hand, the fire department made arrangements to take out a $230,000 bank loan to pay for facility and upgrades. After reading a second story in the newspaper about the department’s plans, a Victor couple stepped forward with a donation to pay off the bank loan.
And then, said Roylene Gaul of the Victor Fire Department, the community came together with large and small donations to pay for the renovation of the building. Over 100 people stepped forward and opened up their pocketbooks to make that happen.
“The Victor community rallied behind the Victor Volunteer Firemen on the project and community members came together to support the project with silent auctions, fund drives, rummage sales and donations large and small,” Gaul said.
The support from the community has come in a variety of ways.
A group of men and women who aren’t able to serve as active firefighters supported those who could with a home-cooked meal every Wednesday night.
“This has helped in keeping the volunteers going after a hard day of work,” Gaul said. “They have a great meal prior to spending the evening training.”
Gaul said every member of the volunteer fire department feels blessed by the outpouring of support from their community.
“The Victor Volunteer Fire Department would like to publicly thank everyone for their support for this project,” Gaul said. “We are sincerely grateful to all our community members and the volunteers of the department that spend thousands of hours of their own time training, protecting, and serving the Victor community and surrounding valley in times of emergency.
“The Victor community’s generosity was instrumental in helping us provide a facility that future generations will be proud of and that will serve the community for years to come,” she said.