UPDATE: New Sissonville Fire Station Ready to Respond

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 11/17/12 @ 3:58 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W. Va. (WSAZ) – Two years ago, the Sissonville fire station was reduced to ashes but now a new station is in service.

"Two years ago in October 2010, we got a call about a very sad event -- and that was the fire department being a total loss as a result of an electrical fire," said Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy.

Now, the range of emotion has changes as it's all smiles for the grand opening of the volunteer fire department’s new station.

"26 months ago I did cry. We lost something that took 50 years to build, Sissonville Fire Chief Tim Gooch said. " Now we've got something we're proud of that's going to last another 50 years, and I can't hardly keep from crying for that either."

Everything had to be replaced – boots, helmets, hoses, jackets. Now, two years and $1.2 million later, things are better than ever.

Housed in the new bays are the new fire trucks, replacing the three that were destroyed in the fire.

What’s also new is the station’s location on Call Road just off the Tupper's Creek exit on Interstate 77 North.

"We have 18 miles of interstate that we cover so this puts us closer to the interstate and this building is kind of in a center of that response area. So, you know, we'll be able to go different directions quicker," said Gooch.

"I think this is a perfect spot for this location. We're a stones throw away from the interstate, we're right here on busy route 21, and I don't think there's any question that this fire station will serve this area for many, many years to come," said Hardy.

Finally, after heartache and months of working and waiting, the 32 brave volunteer fire fighters have a place to call home – again.

Work still needs to be completed on the station's upper level. The new fire station is named after Thomas Johnson -- the department's former chief who retired earlier this year after 51 years of service.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 5/29/12 @ 5:30 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Despite heavy rain, the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department broke ground on its new fire station on Tuesday.

The department had a groundbreaking at the site of its new station along Call Road in Sissonville.

The department lost its main station along Sissonville Road after it was destroyed by fire in October 2010. Investigators say it was an electrical problem that started the fire.

"It's been a struggle," said Tom Miller, secretary of the board with the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department. "We had to go back to square one. It gave us a whole new understanding for the victims we respond to every day because we were a victim."

Not only did the department lose the building, but two fire engines, a water tanker, six-wheel all-terrain vehicle and many other supplies also were destroyed.

"It was real devastating," Sissonville Volunteer Fire Chief Tim Gooch, said. "We're on the fly now, the Phoenix is coming out of the ashes."

Gooch announced during the ceremony that the fire station will be named after longtime chief Tom Johnson. Johnson served on the department for 51 years before he retired earlier this year.

The station will be called the Tom Johnson Fire Station.

Johnson attended the service and said it is an honor to have the station named after him.

"Well, that was definitely a surprise because most of the time it goes to people who have donated land or for some reason has been real instrumental in the construction of the building," Johnson said. "Certainly not an ex-fire chief, you know?"

Right now, the department is operating its main station out of a temporary location in front of Sissonville Middle School.

Construction on the new station will get underway next Monday.

Firefighters hope the station will be open by the second anniversary of the fire in October.

"It's kind of like the caterpillar that goes into the cocoon and I think we're coming out a butterfly," Miller said.

Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department covers south to the Charleston city limits at the Westmoreland Road exit, north to the Jackson County line just south of Goldtown, west to Cross Lanes and Putnam County line and east to Elkview and the Roane County line.

The department also responds automatically for mutual aid to other fire department areas outside of that including, but not limited to portions of Cross Lanes, Walton (in Roane County), Poca (in Putnam County) and Liberty (in Putnam County).

UPDATE 5/29/12 @ 9:50 a.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Construction will begin soon on the new fire station for Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department.

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for Tuesday at 1 p.m.

The department lost its main station after a fire destroyed it back in October 2010.

The new station will be located along Call Road in Sissonville.

Right now, the department is operating its main station out of a temporary location in front of Sissonville Middle School.

Construction on the new station will get underway next Monday.

Firefighters hope the station will be open by the second anniversary of the fire.

UPDATE 8/3/11
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A fire station in northern Kanawha County is one step closer to getting back on its feet.

Work is wrapping up on the new temporary location for Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department's main station. It is located in front of Sissonville Middle School.

Firefighters tell WSAZ.com crews finished up the electrical work Tuesday and they hope to move in later this week.

The department has been operating out of the Charleston Auto Car Garage since its station caught fire and was destroyed last October.

Construction on the permanent station along Call Road is expected to start soon.

UPDATE 4/8/11 @ 6:30 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- From eight potential sites to just one, plans are underway to rebuild a fire station that became nothing more than ashes and rubble six months ago.

It's been a long road for the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department -- one that firefighters hope ends with a new home along Call Road.

The Sissonville firefighters call themselves the "Kings of Adaptation" as now the vote is in for a new home -- picking a place that will help reach the more remote areas they expect will grow over the next few decades.

"We've got less than a quarter mile to U.S. Route 21 and approximately three-fourths of a mile to Interstate 77," firefighter and board member Tom Miller said. "This would allow us to rapidly access the northern and southern parts of our areas."

It's about a mile from their old station -- a shovel-ready site free of potential flooding and already outfitted with water, gas and electric lines.

"It's already got the critical infrastructure we need to build a fire station," Miller said. "That was one of the key factors we looked at in determining a site."

For residents, many concerns were raised over insurance rates and response time.

"The relocation to this site from our old site should not impact any homeowners rates," Miller said. "We've tried to contact as many insurance companies as possible to verify that."

"If we move a mile out here on the road, it reflects time and distance for travel," Chief Thomas Johnson said. "What we take off one end we put on the other so it makes no difference where you choose, it's going to make some difference to somebody."

The new place is expected to have three bays, a large training and meeting room and even a kitchen.

Three new fire trucks will also be added with two already in production, leaving surrounding businesses pleased.

"The sooner they get it up and under operation the better the whole community will be," business owner Dennis Baldwin said. "I'm tickled to death they'll be close to me because they'll be a good neighbor."

Firefighters say the new site along Call Road has room for expansion.

That's important because there's talk of building on extra room for a sheriff's detachment and a garage for the ambulance authority.

The old fire station location will have a small building constructed to store additional equipment and resources.

UPDATE 4/7/11 @ 10:30 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department will soon have a new home.

During a meeting Thursday night, the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors voted 4 to 2 to build the new department along Call Road between Route 21 and Interstate 77 in Sissonville.

The other option was on Route 21 just south of Sissonville High School.

No word on when construction will begin.

The fire department has already ordered three new trucks. Two of the new vehicles will arrive in a few weeks, the other one will arrive in mid-late summer.

The department's main station along Route 21 was destroyed by fire last October.

UPDATE 3/21/11 @ 9:30 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- When their old department was reduced to ashes last October, the Sissonville Volunteer firefighters didn't waste any time looking for a new place to call home.

Now, almost half a year later, they have it narrowed down to two options-- a site on Call Road between Route 21 and I-77 and a spot on Route 21 just south of Sissonville High School.

"We're going to hopefully make the decision based on what's best for the entire Sissonville community. Not only for now, but for the future," said the Secretary of the department's Board of Directors Tom Miller. "The station we are looking at building now has a projected life span of about 50 years."

Each option has its pros and cons. Price, traffic and available utilities are all being taken into account. And, depending on which one they choose, some homeowners could be left to pay the price if they're pushed out of the station's six-mile radius.

If the Sissonville Fire Department decides to relocate to Call Road, this could mean that 30-some homes off Martins Branch Road could see their insurance rates go up by up to 50 percent.

Michael Carpenter's home would be one of them.

"In the area that I'm in right now we've got a larger population than they do on Call Road," said Carpenter. "It makes more sense to me to stay in this direction."

If the department sets up shop on Route 21, insurance rates would stay the same and they'd bring more homes into their coverage area.

"We're excited, but we're also nervous about it. It's a big decision that has a lot of consequences," said Miller. "No matter what we do it's going to impact somebody."

The department is asking anyone with concerns or suggestions to email them at .

UPDATE 1/29/11 @ 10:00 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Imagine giving your life savings to help a community in need. That may not be much if you're only five years old, but it can still have a huge impact.

In this case it all started with 5-year-old Joshua Shaffer’s piggy bank.

“We've got a lot of children out in this area that don't think like that, and I’m not faulting them. But on the other hand, he's one of a rare bird that you don't see many of,” Sissonville Fire Chief Tom Johnson said.

Joshua spent five years, literally his whole life, saving nickels, dimes and even pennies; until the day he gave it all away.

“He just gives because he's good. It's from the heart. No ulterior motive,” Thomas Miller, with the Sissonville Fire Department, said. “He doesn't expect anything in return.”

In October, the Sissonville Fire Department burned to the ground. The future firefighter immediately decided to help in any way he could, so Joshua donated his entire piggy bank.

“I wanna work at this station,” Joshua said.

That good deed caught the attention of Supreme Master Television in Taiwan. The organization is now spreading the news and making its own contribution.

“It shows that the old saying no good deed goes unnoticed,” Miller said. “It shows that Joshua’s story has made it around the world.”

The organization's $20,000 check was too big for the piggy bank, leaving a little more room in the jar. That changed quickly when Joshua filled it back up, making yet another donation.

Even after all the donations, the Sissonville Fire Department still has about $300,000 to go before it can rebuild.

The new building will house the fire department along with part of the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Service and Sheriff’s Department.

UPDATE 12/11/10 @ 1 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (AP) -- Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department is getting $10,000 from State Farm Insurance to help replace a fire station and three fire trucks destroyed in a blaze.

The insurance company announced Friday it would donate the money to help rebuild the fire department's main station that burned down in an Oct. 1 electrical fire. The Charleston Gazette reports that the donation is made up of a grant and a personal donation from insurance company agent Lisa Godwin.

The department's board of directors has estimated it needs to raise an additional $350,000 to rebuild and re-establish itself. The department's insurance covered approximately half of the $2 million in damage caused by the October fire.

UPDATE 11/7/10 @ 9:30 p.m.
NITRO, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Firefighters across the region put their skills to the test Sunday; all in an effort to help one of their own.

“It's not to see who's better. It's just to come out and have fun and try to raise money,” Jason Legg, a Sissonville volunteer firefighter, said.

The money raised is set to go towards building a new Sissonville Fire Department. The family of volunteers lost their firehouse and everything in it when it burnt to the ground in October. Now, they're joined by other firefighters for some friendly fund-raising competition.

“They need fundraisers from now until they get the building built, so anything we can do today we're gonna be happy. Beggars can't be choosers,” Cristina Toney, the event’s organizer, said.

Hose rolling, sledge hammer, and ladder climbing races were a few of the contests.

“It's pretty difficult. The gloves are really really slick, and it wears you out quick,” Dylan Huffman, a volunteer firefighter, said.

Using strength, adrenaline and a good heart to help a group that helps others get back on track.

This competition wasn't just for the men and women in uniform. There were lots of activities for children as well.

Sunday’s fundraiser took place at Buffalo Wild Wings in Nitro, which is donating 15 percent of the day’s purchases to the department.

UPDATE 10/14/10 @ 11 a.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Discussions have already taken place to rebuild the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department after a fire destroyed its building earlier this month.

The fire happened on October 1 at the department's main station along Route 21.

The Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department's Board of Directors met Wednesday to discuss rebuilding the department's station, replacing three fire trucks and other items.

According to a news release, the board voted Wednesday night to replace 12 sets of turnout gear that were lost in the fire. A grant through the Kanawha County Public Safety Grant Committee will help pay for that gear.

Board members say the safety of the firemen is the number one priority.

"Whatever we do from this point forward, we have to take care of our firemen first," said Fire Chief Tom Johnson. "They are our most valuable asset."

The department is still assessing and inventorying all of the equipment lost including over fifty air packs and spare bottles, fire hose, nozzles, fittings, pumps, fans, tools, ladders, rescue tools, rescue rope, and all of the other items that are necessary to operate an active fire department, according to a news release.

Firefighters say they have been overwhelmed with support from the community and other fire service personnel.

According to a news release, the fire department has received $955,690.00 from its insurance carrier. The Kanawha County Commission pledged $100,000 to help the department.

The department has also received a $25,000 donation from the NiSource Foundation, $5,000 from NGK Spark Plugs, $5,000 from the city of South Charleston, and numerous other donations from individuals, firefighters say.

Students from Sissonville High School walked in the homecoming parade and passed a bucket at the football game and raised over $1,700. Students at Confidence Elementary did a 50/50 drawing at their carnival and raised over $100.

The department is currently responding to emergency calls out of Charleston Auto. Firefighters are using two loaner trucks until their trucks are replaced.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 10/7/10 @ 9 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- There is some major cash heading to a fire department that was leveled by a huge fire last week.

Thursday night the Kanawha County Commission approved the transfer of $100,000 from the county's emergency fund to the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department.

A fire on Friday destroyed the department's main station along with two fire engines, a water tanker, six-wheel atv and other equipment.

The money will be made available to the department immediately.

A local company also donated a fax machine to the department, so members can fax grant applications.

UPDATE 10/6/10 @ 8:15 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The recovery effort for the Sissonville Fire Department is receiving a little help from a local company.

The NiSource Charitable Foundation today announced a grant of $25,000 to the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department to assist in its recovery following the destruction of its fire house.

“The Sissonville region is home to many NiSource and Columbia Gas Transmission employees and their families, as well as the location of some of our most important operating facilities,” Victor M. Gaglio, senior vice president of operations for NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage, said in announcing the contribution. “We have always been able to count on the support of the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department during any time of need, so we want to be there for the department and the community as we rebuild following this loss.”

Columbia Gas Transmission operations employees from the Sissonville area will present the NiSource Foundation contribution to Volunteer Fire Chief Tom Miller at a community meeting Wednesday night at Sissonville Middle School at 6:30 p.m.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 10/5/10 @ 8:15 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- On Wednesday, the community of Sissonville will get an update on where their volunteer fire department stands after a devastating fire last week.

The fire department will have a community meeting at the new Sissonville Middle School at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6. That's where fire department members will update the community on everything that has happened since Friday's fire.

They also will let the community know what the department still needs to get up and running.

Last week's fire destroyed the department's main station, along with two fire engines, a water tanker, six-wheel all-terrain vehicle and many other supplies.

UPDATE 10/4/10 @ 10:30 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Paul Gill with the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office tells WSAZ.com the fire that destroyed the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department on Friday appears to be accidental.

An electrical engineer will be at the scene on Monday, according to investigators.

More information is expected to be released on Monday.

UPDATE 10/2/10 @ 11:40 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A fire at a fire station has left a band of brothers with a pile of rubble and a recovery that's painful.

Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department lost everything including three trucks and a plethora of equipment after a blaze broke out at one of their three stations Friday.

The cause of what started the fire isn't completely clear, however, the state fire marshal says it's not suspicious and was accidental.

Firefighters spent Saturday sifting through the remnants of what's left, unable to find anything salvageable.

The damage is now estimated at more than $1.5 million, making it a devastating loss to those who have worked there for decades and helped build the station from the ground up.

"We're going to go on, this has us knocked down but we're getting up," firefighter Tom Miller said. "We're going to dust ourselves off and we're going to rise from the ashes, literally."

The community has already reached out, providing food, supplies and support for the department.

Thanks to one business owner, the fire department has a new place to call home for now.

"There's no greater people that i know of than the people of Sissonville," Miller said. "We're kind of like kids who went off to college and stayed in a dorm room for a short period of time."

The owner of Charleston Auto gave up half of his building so a new temporary fire station could be set up.

"I walked down the street after things started settling down and just looked and it just started rolling through my mind, 'What can I do to help these guys?'" shop owner Chris Reed said. "A few years back me and my children were in a car accident and that scared the life out of me with two small kids in the car and those guys were right there."

Reed added, "I just felt that it was my responsibility if I could do anything to be there."

The department now has two truck bays, a lounge and office and donated equipment, prepared to go whenever a call comes in.

"I mean it just knocks the wind out of you," Reed said. "All last night there were departments dropping stuff of here for these guys i mean they just bond together."

"I feel honored to have them in my shop and working along beside them," Charleston Auto employee Billy Reece said. "If i need a hand, I know they'll help me and if they need a hand they know they can count on me as well as my coworkers."

Having the extra space has allowed the people who voluntarily put their lives on the line to go back to doing what they do best.

"If we have to work in our parking lot to make room for these guys, that's fine with me," Reece said "I want to see them get back on their feet."

Other fire departments throughout the county, state and country have donated equipment to Sissonville.

Bunker gear, uniforms and tools have all been dropped off at the makeshift station, with more on its way.

More information surrounding what started that fire will be released Monday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the very latest.

UPDATE 10/1/10 @ 8:30 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Fire departments throughout Kanawha County responded to a fire at one of their fellow stations, a fire so devastating that it completely destroyed the building and everything inside.

Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department has three stations, one that is now ash and rubble. All that remains are charred frames of fire trucks and what used to be fire equipment.

Two of the lost fire trucks cost an estimated $250,000.

It's still unknown what caused this fire, however, once it started no one noticed it until it was too late.

"This is the kind of call you never want to get," Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said.

An eyewitness recalled seeing nothing when he initially passed by the station.

"I went down the road to the ATM machine and when I came back about five minutes later, there were already flames coming out of the roof," Michael Taylor said.

Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department is dealing with a major loss after the main station collapsed.

Three fire trucks, an ATV and other equipment including the jaws of life were all destroyed.

The entire damage is estimated at more than $1 million.

"Until the fire broke through the roof or blew out the windows, there was no conscious notion that there was a fire here," State Fire Marshal Sterling Lewis said.

When firefighters arrived on the scene it was too late. Within minutes, the building and everything inside were gone.

"They couldn't get in," Fire Chief Tom Johnson said. "As soon as they got here it was beyond that, they couldn't even gain entry to the building at all."

Explosions from oxygen tanks inside the building rocked the nearby neighborhood.

"It was jarring those windows everytime it would go off," Taylor said. "There were six or eight explosions, one real loud one at first."

Even with the fire knocked down, the work is far from over with the challenge of keeping people in the area safe.

"We have the departments here that will be covering this area," Lewis said. "There's no need for anyone to fear, they will be covered for fire and rescue."

The Sissonville area still has two auxiliary fire houses and a temporary fire station has been set at Charleston Auto.

That temporary station is only a half mile from the old station down Sissonville Drive. Two fire trucks are operating from there in case of any emergency calls.

"We will beg, borrow, buy or steal whatever we need to keep this fire department in business," Carper said.

UPDATE 10/1/10 @ 7 p.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Firefighters found themselves in an unusual situation, calling 911 and relying on other departments to come to their rescue. Departments from throughout Kanawha County answered the call.

That support continued throughout the day Friday. Trucks from neighboring departments were on standby all day to help answer emergencies.

It's all part of that brotherhood found in police and fire departments. And firefighters in Sissonville will be needing that support for some time to come. One firefighter said it took 50 years of blood, sweat and tears to get the department where it was, and now they are going to have to start from square one.

"This is a community loss. It's not our loss, it's a community loss," Firefighter Tom Miller said, trying to fight back the tears. "This is our house, it's a firehouse it's where I've spent the better part of the last 26 years of my life. These are my brothers; this is my family."

Luckily no part of that family was lost. The firefighters were all trapped outside, forced to watch as everything they needed to fight the fire went up in flames.

Years worth of work and equipment were lost, but it's already beginning to come back piece by piece.

"It's a big state, a lot of fire departments and everyone is going to come out of the woodwork to get them back in service," Rand Fire Chief Bill White says. "We're just one big family I reckon, and you don't let your family down. If they need something, you give it to them."

"We're already getting offers for help from around the country," Miller says. "We've just got to rebuild. Life goes on. We've got to be here for the community, we have to be."

And in turn, the community is answering the call to help the department.

"We sent sandwiches over, chips, apples. We're making them coffee -- whatever they want," Wanda Taylor, who works at Billy B's Grocery, says. "It's our community; they help us."

The firefighters say they cannot say thank you enough to the departments who responded and who have stepped up to help.

UPDATE 10/1/10 @ 11:44 a.m.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - One of the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department's stations has collapsed in a fire.

The fire was reported to Kanawha County Metro 911 shortly before 9 a.m. Friday. Dispatchers say no one was in the building at the time and there were no injuries.

Fire Chief Thomas K. Johnson says two fire engines, a water tanker and a six-wheel all-terrain vehicle were destroyed.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper estimated damage at $750,000.

Carper says the county will loan a fire truck to the department and arrange for portable buildings until the station and equipment can be replaced.

Johnson says the department has two other substations and covers about 125 square miles.

ORIGINAL STORY 10/1/10 @ 8:04 AM
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Emergency crews are on the scene of a fire at the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department.

The fire was reported just before 9:00 a.m. Friday.

911 dispatchers tell WSAZ.com the building has collapsed. Firefighters are still trying to get the fire under control.

A Sissonville Volunteer Firefighter says the department's trucks were still inside the fire house when the fire started. A firefighter tells WSAZ.com the department's main engine, rescue truck and a tanker were all lost in the fire. A 4X4 ranger was also housed at the department and it was destroyed in the fire.

The department also lost all of its fire equipment.

Several local fire departments have arrived on scene to help put the flames out.

No injuries have been reported.

Sissonville Drive is closed in the area.

Emergency crews at the scene will not let anyone near the area because the heat of the fire is causing the department's oxygen tanks to explode.

The Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department just bought a new fire rescue engine back in March. That truck was not damaged in the fire because it is housed at the Eden's Fork Station.

The students and faculty at Sissonville Middle School are not in danger, according to emergency crews. The smoke from the fire is blowing away from the school.

Kanawha County is sending its Mobile Command Center to the scene.

We have a crew at the scene. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the very latest information.

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