North Granville Hose Co. to close Firefighter Hall

T he North Granville Hose Company is closing Firefighter Hall.
Scott McCullen, chief of the company, said the department doesn’t have the resources to keep the building open.
“We just can’t afford it. It needs some maintenance but we don’t have the money. The members aren’t even using it,” McCullen said.
“We got to cut somewhere and we can’t cut fire equipment.”
The building, commonly referred to as the North Granville Community Center, hasn’t been used for anything other than a polling location for local, state and federal elections since the department stopped holding bingo in the facility nearly two years ago.
“This really isn’t anything new,” McCullen said. “It was shut down 1.5 to 2 years ago. We don’t have a use for it.”
The fire company used to host dinners and bingo in the nearly 4,000 square foot building and the facility was available for rent. But McCullen said times have changed and those events don’t provide the revenue they once did.
He said the company would need to rent the facility for $500 to make it worth it. The county used to provide some money for using the facility as a polling location, but haven’t in six or seven years.
“It (the money) used to pay for heat and lights but they don’t do that anymore. The only reason we’ve remained open was for the town of Granville,” McCullen said.
Bingo was successful for many years but even that fell off and the pool of volunteers needed to make those events happen just isn’t there anymore.
“The money is just not there but more so than that it comes down to manpower. We don’t have the guys to rent it out,” McCullen said
“We’re low on manpower. I’ve been chief for 22 years and it’s very discouraging that people don’t want to volunteer.”
The lack of volunteers has stretched the department’s members thin and McCullen said he’s not going to ask them to spend the little free time they have hosting fundraisers.
“We’re going to have to live by our budget,” McCullen said.
The department receives approximately $61,500 from the town, but McCullen said the budget is barely adequate for the company’s needs.
“The town has done well by us, but they’re stuck at 2 percent. They would like to do more; (Supervisor) Matt Hicks has been very supportive but his hands are tied. The situation is going to get tougher. It’s tough everywhere. It’s not just here, it’s the economic times,” McCullen said.
Many local fire departments have struggled with budgetary shortfalls as the cost of offering fire protection has not kept pace with revenues. The Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Company (Whitehall) dissolved in amid low membership and stressed finances and the members of the Hampton Volunteer Fire Department told town officials last year that the company was struggling to keep up with expenses.
McCullen said closing the hall is one of several actions the department has taken to continue to offer fire protection. He said the department has already down-sized its fleet by one truck.
“We’re cutting where we can. We have to live by our budget and we’re hoping we can make it,” he said.
As for the future of Firefighter Hall, McCullen said it’s up in the air. He said the department has shut off the alarms and will not heat the facility this winter. Beyond that it’s an unknown.
“If I could sell it tomorrow, I would.”

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