Community helps Ponder open new fire station

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David Minton/DRC
Ponder Volunteer Fire Department firefighters conduct a ceremonial uncoupling of the fire hoses at the opening ceremony and open house of the new Ponder Volunteer Fire Department Fire Station, Saturday, March 9, 2013, in Ponder, TX.
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Ponder is now home to a new 9,600-square-foot fire station — thanks to a lot of help from some friends.

“It’s really thanks to our community that we are able to see our need come to fruition,” said Andrew Economedes, assistant fire chief for the Ponder Volunteer Fire Department.

The new building — a five-year plan in the making — was built with the assistance of community members lending their services and time. One man, Economedes said, even provided space for the crew to work from while their building was under construction, saving the nonprofit organization a considerable amount of money.

The new $652,800 station off FM156 has sleeping quarters for six, a full kitchen, living quarters, office space, a training room — also used as an emergency response room — and a community room available for local civic organizations.

A good portion of the money, Economedes said, came from Frontier Days, the department’s annual barbecue dinner.

“We did a lot of pinching and saving as well and were able to throw in about $250,000,” he said.

A $17,000 grant from CoServ Electric partially paid for the fire sprinkler system, and a total of $27,000 from ConocoPhillips paid for a commercial range oven complete with range hood as well as additional supplies, Economedes said. A bank loan funded the additional costs associated with the building.

If the volunteer department is ever replaced, there will still be a fully functional station for the area.

“I don’t see us five, 10 years or greater … turning into a paid, town-owned facility. We have always been a volunteer organization and a very efficient one at that,” said Economedes, who also works as a Grapevine firefighter.

The Ponder department, founded in 1937, runs solely with volunteers and covers 68 square miles. Eighteen volunteers are on the roster now, with six of them emergency medical technicians and two paramedics.

“There is always someone in town who is CPR-certified, and we usually have three people out per call,” Economedes said.

The department, which is under contract with the town of Ponder and Denton County for service, can arrive to a call within seven to eight minutes, Economedes said. He compared their one-station town to Grapevine, a city that has five stations in 35 square miles.

Construction on the station began last spring, and enough of the building was complete by December that the department’s five trucks could be stored for the winter. Economedes said construction was completed by mid-January.

On Saturday, the community and volunteer firefighters celebrated the station’s completion during an open house. With the construction of the new station behind them, Economedes said the firefighters are now gearing up for Frontier Days on May 17-19, when the department will have its annual three-meat barbecue fundraiser. Dinner will cost $12 for adults and $6 for children.

“We are always busy going from one project to the next, but it’s really the community we live to serve,” Economedes said. “That’s always been our mission.”

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is mgray@dentonrc.com .


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