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Monett Rural firefighters boosted by EFCO land gift

Friday, May 15, 2009

CUTLINE Standing in front of the restroom building that will become the heart of a new station for the Monett Rural Fire Association, Monett Rural Board President Paul Wimsatt, front row at left, accepted a deed for one acre of property from EFCO Corporation. Presenting the gift is Larry Eden, chief information officer for EFCO, along with EFCO representatives Mindy McCombs, vice president of human resources, and Rick Scherer, vice president of finances. Firefighters and board members of the Monett Rural Fire Association looking on, second row from left, are: Janet Wimsatt, Larry Long, Randy Hall, Tim Brodie, Mike Meier and Michael Greenhaw. Back row: John Hull, Brandon Pennington, Bruce Chandler Jr. Johnathan Shaner, David Shaner, Dustin Jones and Chief Kevin Litchfield. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
EFCO Corporation has given a big boost to the Monett Rural Fire Association through the donation of one acre of property in the Monett Industrial Park. A formal ceremony was held on site this week.

In 2007, EFCO purchased almost five acres of land from the Monett Chamber of Commerce to expand parking options for its main plant on Bridle Lane. The Chamber had long used the property for its Junior Livestock Show and had few off-season uses for the land.

EFCO agreed to donate one acre of the land, including the restroom building, to the Monett Rural Fire Association. The land is adjacent to the city's utilities warehouse and fire station, next to the east standpipe.

For the fire department, the gift of land is strategic. Paul Wimsatt, Monett Rural board president, said the property will position the fire department to build a new station within a quarter-mile of its present station on Callan Street.

Monett Rural presently has 14 vehicles, including brush trucks and a water tanker, operating out of three stations. The main staging area has always been inside the city, Wimsatt said. The other two stations are in Pulaskifield and Kings Prairie, next to the old Crouch's Locker.

Presently, the Monett station houses two pumpers. During the winter, Wimsatt said the tanker truck, which generally sits outside, has to be put indoors. To move it inside the Monett station, the second pumper, used for mutual aid calls, has to be relocated to the Pulaskifield station.

A new station on the former EFCO property will enable both pumpers to stay in Monett, and the tanker truck to be stored indoors.

"We've had people ask why we would build in the city limits," Wimsatt said. "Ninety percent of our guys live in town. If the guys are in town, they can get to the trucks quicker."

If more manpower is needed in the field, Wimsatt said a call can be made requesting a firefighter drive to one of the rural stations and bring another truck from there.

The department would like to build a three-bay station approximately 60 by 80 feet. According to Wimsatt, the building would enable all the department's trucks to be housed under a roof, plus provide a significant indoor space for training and storage.

The slanted roof of the Chamber's bathroom building will be removed and a flat roof installed so the space can be used for storage. The station would be made from a metal building, on which another section could be added for future expansion.

Wimsatt said a supportive patron has donated $40,000 that has been placed in a restricted fund for a new building. Additional funds are set aside out of savings in operational expenses. Wimsatt expected fundraising will be needed to finish the project. He did not expect construction to begin before next summer.

The EFCO property also offers the fire department a major safety improvement. Wimsatt said firemen now leave the station on Callan Street, heading west, and have to carefully pull onto Kyler Street on the south side of the bridge. The new station will enable trucks to exit directly onto County Road, using the traffic signal at Kyler to travel south out of town.

Larry Eden, chief information officer for EFCO, said the donation was made "as part of EFCO's continuing effort to support the community."

"We're all part of this," said Judi Walker, marketing information specialist for EFCO.

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