Saturday morning, after waiting for nearly 14 months, the Diligence Fire Company of Summit Hill finally moved into its new station.
"It's hard to believe we're here," said Fire Chief Shawn Hoben. "I think the fire department and borough council did as best they could in planning the state of the art firehouse."
Originally scheduled to be completed by Dec. 1, 2008, the use of the new structure was delayed by construction problems.
With most of the problems remedied, firefighters were finally permitted to move their apparatus into the new building.
"Finally the day came," said Bob Henninger, chief engineer of the fire company. "I'm very excited we're in the new building. It will boost the morale as a whole of the company. We can start functioning as we should as a fire department."
Both Hoben and Fire Company President Larry Black urged members of the community to visit the fire station when they see volunteers inside.
Also, a formal open house is being planned.
The official dedication of both the fire station and a 2008 KME, 2000 gallons-per-minute pumper are being planned for August.
Originally the dedication was planned for last August but had to be called off because the building couldn't be occupied.
Black was obviously thrilled about moving into the station, commenting, "It's once in a lifetime to have a new pumper and have a new station."
He said the new building is more user-friendly. He said that much more room exists between the parked apparatus than at the old fire station, making it safer for the firefighters.
"There's no wasted space here," said Hoben. "It's all needed space. It will make us more efficient at being firefighters."
One of the highlights Saturday while moving into the new structure was the awarding of plaques to an organization and two firms that assisted the fire department during the construction phase.
William Evans and Mark Krajcirik accepted a plaque on behalf of Evans Fuel Oil. The firm allowed a piece of apparatus to be housed in one of its garages.
Kevin O'Donnell, commander of American Legion Post 316, Summit Hill, accepted a plaque on behalf of the Legion for allowing memorabilia and various fire company items to be stored at the Legion Home.
Kyle McRitchie, owner of Storage Mobility of Clarks Summit, received a plaque for providing a pod storage device to the fire company since April 2008 for storing fire company items. McRitchie donated the use of the pod during that time.
Asked why a firm from Clarks Summit would make such a donation to a fire company more than 50 miles away, McRitchie, who services this area with pods, said when contacted by Black, he felt an obligation to let them use one.
"The fire company is good for the community," he said. "I think it's every businessman's duty to contribute to the company."
Henninger said the thing which impresses him most about the new firehouse is the vehicle exhaust system, which allows apparatus exhaust to escape from the building.
Also, in the old building, the lack of space between the apparatus made it dangerous for the volunteers, especially when they had to get into gear for responding to an emergency. Not only is there more space between vehicles, but there is a gear room for firefighters' safety.
Hoben said of the building project delay, "It was as much anxiety for the community as it was for us. There are little things to be done, but we'll get there."
During the construction phase, five pieces of apparatus were stored at the borough maintenance garage. Hoben said, "The borough workers have cooperated with us. What they had to endure, they are to be commended."
He thanked his firefighters for their patience.
"I didn't get any gripes or complaints through the whole process," he added. "That made it easier for me as fire chief."