BRILLIANT - Fire departments from eight stations came to welcome the Brilliant Volunteer Fire Department, Station 33, into its new home Saturday.
A parade led by the Wells Township Police Department brought trucks from Shadyside, Toronto, Yorkville, Wintersville, Tiltonsville, Wellsburg, Harrisville, Dillonvale and Wells Township to the new station located at 1001 Third St.
Attired in their dress uniforms, department members raised a flag donated by Brilliant American Legion Post 573 members, William Smythe, Charles Bane and Paul Scott, while a band of local young men, All Ends Well, played the National Anthem.
FLAG RAiSING – The Brilliant Volunteer Fire Department members, in dress uniform, raised a flag donated by the Brilliant American Legion Post 573 at the new fire house in special ceremonies Saturday. -- Esther McCoy
Larry Flowers, state fire marshal, said the dedication was part of a long history with the Brilliant department. A former firefighter and fire chief, he said it was an honor to be part of the ceremony for the new station.
Chief Donald Hutchison recalled the department history, saying a bucket brigade company was formed in the early 1900s and in 1923 was incorporated as the Brilliant VFD.
"Over the past 85 plus years, the building standing at 423 Market St. faced 37 floods with water reaching as high as 12 feet in the building, not to mention close calls when equipment had to be relocated to higher ground," he said.
"During this period, the north end of Brilliant underwent changes. What once was a flourishing neighborhood soon became empty, business establishments closed and residents began to relocate, including some of the firemen," he told the audience.
"It wasn't until the floods in the fall of 2004 and winter of 2005, only four months apart, that remaining residents began vacating what is considered a FEMA declared flood zone. Then FEMA had funds to buy out property owners or pay to raise their houses 12-feet higher. Some stayed, many left," Hutchison said..
In the spring of 2005, the department had grown tired of moving equipment worth thousands of dollars, cleaning down the station, and repairing offices. With a membership decline, increase in call volume and increase in state mandated training, too much was put on the backs of a few. There was no longer a 45-member roster and 15 junior members, it was noted.
"In March 2005, it was decided to pursue moving the station to a more centralized location due to flooding, train tracks that separated membership from equipment and safety reasons. I was on a committee, along with Malcolm Fellows, Gary Fellows, Joe Barrett, Mike Nichols and Brian Harvey, to look at possible locations. Rich Jefferson was president at the time. One location was the property of Bob Hyde, a tract of land north of Danny Duda Field. He was unwilling to part with the tract we requested but negotiated regarding the baseball field," Hutchison recalled.
"Members once played or watched their kids play on the field and we knew this was going to be a difficult decision," the chief continued.
"We made an offer and also an offer of assistance to the Brilliant Little League to relocate the field and dugout construction. In 2006, the department finalized the purchase. A site plan was created by Mark Viola for design and a FEMA grant we submitted was rejected. The department decided to put together a plan with Graecon and our architect and we finally got a bid we could live with. Construction started in early spring of 2011 and it took almost 11 months but here we are. And we did it on our own, without grants," he concluded.
He thanked the Jefferson County commissioners; Wells Township trustees; John Corrigan, clerk of courts; and the U.S. Bank for their assistance along the way.
It was decided that Fellows, a 52-year member, with service in all department offices, including chief and later assistant chief until 2011, should cut the ribbon. But two units were called out on emergencies and Fellows was on one of the runs.
Richard Jeffers, a 48-year member, took the scissors in hand and did the honors instead.
Refreshments were served in the new bays to a large crowd of Brilliant residents.