Brightwood Fire Station preps for demo
The Brightwood Fire Station is being demolished to be replaced by a newer building, but members of the Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Company said it’s not an ending, just the beginning of another chapter.
“The old history will still be with us,” said John Kuchma, one of the younger members of the company. “I’m excited to see it come from here and find it’s place in the new station.”
On March 1, members of the fire company gathered to lower the American flag in front of the station one last time. The flag was lowered and folded by life members of the company and will be flown over the new Brightwood Road Station when it opens in approximately two years.
As of March 3, the fire company will be operating out of the two smaller stations, one on Milford Drive and the other on Clifton Road, as well as a garage at Kiefer Coal and Supply on West Library Avenue.
Construction of the new state-of-the-art $8.2 million building is being funded from a .34 mill property tax, which was overwhelmingly approved by a voter referendum in November 2013. The tax will not only fund the construction, but will also provide the fire company with an annual operating budget.
The station, which opened March 7, 1954, was not the first station operated by the company and not the only one to stand at the Brightwood Road site.
According to company historian Bob Galambas, the first station, built in 1929, stood on the corner of Mesta Street and Brightwood Road and was moved across the street from the original location for a time.
In 1930, firefighters purchased the site on Brightwood Road near the corner with South Park Road, and in 1933, the fire fighters put the building in logs and rolled it down Brightwood Road to the current location.
In 1940, the second station was built on that site and, in 1954 the present day station opened. Galambas was 16 at the time and his father was vice president of the company. The young Galambas and other firefighters helped with the building. He went on to serve as president and as assistant chief, as well as historian.
The old fire station also has some very personal memories for Bill Allsopp, a company member for almost 50 years. Allsopp left the March 1 ceremony with a brick from an original wall – the fire station wall that was featured in many of his wedding photos. The Allsopps celebrated their wedding reception at the station’s social hall.
“We were married at St. Bernard’s and rode to the reception in the back of (the company’s) rescue vehicle,” he said.
Over the years, two of Allsopp’s brothers and also his son have been members of the fire company.
Family roots run deep in the company, including the Moore family. Brothers Dan Moore and Chuck Moore said they have memories of their firefighter father taking them to the station when they were young children. “He would stand us by the flagpole and we would watch the trucks leave on calls,” recalled Chuck Moore.
Dan Moore said he was a reluctant recruit for the fire company. “Dad talked me into it,” he said.
The firefighter, who served as chief for 29 years, shook his head, “Once it gets into your blood ... ”
“I used to bring my girls down here,” he added “My girls could pump. They could probably out pump most of the guys here.”
Company President Jeff Pritchard said it will probably take three months to complete the demolition of the fire station, as well as a nearby barber shop and the two homes the company has purchase for the new construction.
The company has sold the electric sign from in front of the station, as well as the garage doors and anything else they could from the old building to finance the new one, said Pritchard.
“It’s scary, but exciting,” he said.