LaHARPE — Larry Trester’s long-held dream is about to come true.
“We’ve wanted a fire barn, a place to keep all the trucks together, for a long time,” said Trester, chief of LaHarpe’s Rural Volunteer Fire Department.
The building will be available by the end of March.
Tuesday morning a crew from Amish and Mennonite groups in the El Dorado Springs, Mo., area arrived in LaHarpe, with tools in hand and knowledge that comes from putting up a good many metal buildings.
Late Wednesday afternoon the shell of the building, with three large bays facing south, was in place downtown.
A concrete floor will be poured Friday and the concrete’s curing will be the only hold-up to volunteers occupying the structure.
“That will take about a month,” Trester said.
Finishing the interior and putting up doors will follow the concrete pour.
The volunteers answer calls in Elm and Deer townships, with most of those who man firefighting equipment pulling double duty.
“We’re all members of the LaHarpe department, too,” Trester said, but the two departments, city and rural, are independent.
The volunteers are funded by a district-wide levy of 5 mills. Money to build the new fire barn came from reserves that have been accumulated for several years.
LaHarpe funds the city department.
The volunteers have a 300-gallon tanker, a pumper and three trucks outfitted to fight grass and brush fires, a relatively common occurrence in an area made up mainly of farm ground.
The trucks have been kept in various places for years. Some are outdoors near volunteers’ homes and the two sensitive ones — tanker and pumper — have been kept indoors most of the time. Trester said heating costs for those two was about $400 a month during cold weather months.
He also noted that acquisition and construction of the new fire barn, estimated at $50,000, was partly made possible by the generosity of Don Diebolt at Diebolt Lumber and Supply, just to the southeast of LaHarpe.
“It would have been hard to do without his help,” Trester said.
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