Apple River -
This area is now better covered thanks to a recent expansion by the Advocate Volunteer Fire Department.
The department opened its new Apple River substation recently, after years of planning, cutting red tape and fundraising. The new substation houses one of the department's pumper/tanker trucks, enabling a quicker response to areas such as Apple River and New Salem.
"Some of our members over that way first brought it to our attention probably about five years ago, just talking about our response times that way, and how it took so long to get there," said Advocate fire chief Mike MacDougall. "The idea came up and we talked about it, and talked about, and decided we should do something about it."
Apple River is about 18 km from the department's station in East Advocate, at least a 20-minute drive in a fire truck.
For the past two years the department and its ladies auxiliary have been raising funds from suppers, dances and various other activities for the cause, which did not receive any municipal funding or other government grants.
The project did have to receive approval from the county, however, to be recognized as one of the department's structures, according to MacDougall, who said they were off and running once that approval was granted.
The 20 x 30' building was built on a parcel of land donated by Bernice and Ron Slocum, and the project was handled by local contractors, with Charles Reid doing the concrete work, Stephen McLellan doing the construction, and Ernie Morris doing the electrical work. The overall project cost about $30,000.
The firefighters themselves, along with community volunteers, took care of interior work such as insulation and chipboard.
"Everybody chipped in, from the fire department to the auxiliary to other community members," said MacDougall.
Heated electrically, the substation is just big enough to hold the truck, which the department uses as a tanker because of its higher water capacity. The department still has two trucks at its Advocate station, along with a rescue vehicle and a cube van.
"It allows us to serve the community better, by giving us a quicker response time, plus for insurance purposes for community members in Apple River and New Salem, by being closer to a fire station," said the chief. "I've been told it has helped a few people so far already for insurance purposes."
MacDougall said he is hoping the substation will also help the department recruit more fire firefighters in the Apple River area.
"We definitely need more members out that way," he said.
The substation is the third major project for the department in recent years, following the construction of a second building in Advocate, and the refurbishing of their No. 2 truck.
Meanwhile, the department continues to hold fundraisers for its operations. Upcoming events include a roast beef supper on Feb. 14 and a winter carnival on March 13-14.