New Fire Hall Almost Finished

April 21, 2003

By Stephanie M. Mangino
The Winchester Star

Brothers Robbie and Jay Bailey stand in a loft of the new Shawnee Fire Hall.
Jay Bailey looks over the bunk room.
The new Shawnee Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company facility has a large bingo hall.
(Photos by Rick Foster)

Jay Bailey hopes his home away from home will be finished within two months.

The facility he’s thinking about will house two ovens, a microwave, a stove, a refrigerator, 12 bunks, a laundry area, a bingo hall, and a vehicle bay with space for up to eight large pieces of equipment.

Brothers Robbie and Jay Bailey stand in a loft of the new Shawnee Fire Hall.

Jay Bailey looks over the bunk room.

The new Shawnee Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company facility has a large bingo hall.
(Photos by Rick Foster)
Obviously, Bailey’s wish isn’t for an ordinary building. It’s for the new home of Winchester’s Shawnee Fire Hall.

Shawnee Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company started discussions about building a new hall back in 2000, said Bailey, the company’s president.

By March 2002, planning was finished and ground was broken for a new fire hall off Weems Lane.

The new hall measures 28,800 square feet, making it about 10,000 square feet bigger than the company’s current home on Roosevelt Boulevard.

Once the new hall is finished, the old one will be sold to Grace Community Church, Bailey said.

From the outside, it may look like the new fire hall is ready to go, but the interior tells a different story.

On Friday, Bailey and his brother, Robbie, the company’s vice president, toured the building, which still needs the majority of its fixtures.

Paint is still needed on the walls, appliances must be moved in, and cabinets built. One room held all of the interior doors, which have yet to be affixed to hinges throughout the facility.

Although work needs to be done, it won’t be long until the fire hall opens.

“Since (we’ve) gotten to this stage, we’ve been really anxious to move in,” said Jay Bailey.

Now all of those plans made over previous years are real, Jay Bailey said, as he showed off the empty rooms that will soon serve the company’s firefighters.

He was particularly excited when he stopped in a hallway before two door openings set relatively close together. He said the rooms behind will be separate men’s and women’s bathroom/shower/locker room facilities.

“I’m sure our female companions are very happy about that,” he said.

Right now, Shawnee makes do with a coed setup, he said.

The fire hall will also house a room for gym equipment, and a larger living area for the firefighters, which is connected to two smaller rooms, one for study and the other for computer work, Jay Bailey said.

The crew area sits at one end of the building. The vehicle bay is next, featuring overhead doors on both sides of the building, so vehicles can leave from either side if necessary.

The last third of the building is taken up by the bingo hall, which is comparable in size to the company’s current bingo hall, Jay and Robbie Bailey said.

Bingo is the volunteer fire company’s biggest moneymaker, Jay Bailey said. “Without bingo, we would not be in business.”

Only $25,000 of the company’s $380,000 operating budget came from the city of Winchester in the 2002 fiscal year, company officials said. The rest of the money came from bingo and other donations.

The city is very fortunate, Robbie Bailey added, that “very few tax dollars go toward fire protection.”

“The community is building this,” Jay Bailey said as he looked around the new hall, which also features a steeply pitched roof that could be viewed from the main floor as work progressed on the interior.

Steel beams are visible, and that steel is important, Jay Bailey added, because the bingo hall must double as an emergency shelter for the city. The facility must be able to withstand the effects of natural disasters.

The $3 million project is one that provides for the company’s basic needs, Jay Bailey said. Quality materials have been used, but extravagance was avoided. “We don’t have gold-plated doorknobs or stuff like that,” he said.

Ultimately, the design needed to support a maintenance-free facility. “The building needs to serve us. We don’t want to serve it,” Jay Bailey said.

And some of the volunteers the building will serve will do more than just spend time at the hall waiting for calls, Jay Bailey said.

Two volunteers live at the station, returning there after working their regular jobs. They don’t pay rent, but they do earn their keep through answering fire calls. “It’s their time that they have to give to the community,” Jay Bailey said.

He knows what it’s like to live at the station, because he lived at Shawnee for 11/2 years starting in his senior year of high school in 1978.

Jay, 44, and Robbie, 39, joined Shawnee in 1975 and 1980, respectively, and both hope that the new facility “will help draw (younger) people into our organization,” Jay said.

The brothers have also always been volunteers. Jay works for DuPont in Warren County and Robbie is employed by the U.S. Postal Service.

As Shawnee celebrates its 50th anniversary, Jay said of the new hall, “We thought it would be a gift to the company and a gift to the community.”

They hope that gift will be ready to open by June, Jay said, and if the building is ready then, he expected a dedication/public open house in either late July or early August.