A new chapter will begin Sunday when the Laytonsville District Volunteer Fire Department breaks ground on a project to modernize and expand the fire station.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place at the station, at 21400 Laytonsville Road, beginning at 2:30 p.m.
According to Chief Buddy Sutton, the existing station has not been renovated since it was built in 1966.
The project includes an expansion of almost 2,800 square feet, with the renovation of the current 3,000-square-foot station’s living and working areas.
Through community donations and fundraising efforts such as dinners, breakfasts and birthday parties, the department has raised approximately $600,000. Construction is expected to cost $1.5 million, with additional funding needed to furnish the facility.
Department Vice President Greg Albrecht said he expects the total cost to come in under $2 million.
Del. Craig Zucker (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville is expected to attend the groundbreaking ceremony, and will present a state bond bill for $150,000, which requires matching funding.
Albrecht said they have received no county funding. The station will borrow the balance of the project cost from Damascus Bank.
Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2014.
Much has changed since the department began in 1952. Town residents and community leaders purchased Woodmen’s Hall as the site of their first station, located on the corner of Laytonsville Road and Howard Street, and then bought “Minnie,” a 1930 Brockway pumper, from the Hyattstown Volunteer Fire Department for $100.
Ironically, tragedy struck in 1965 when the station and all of its contents burned in a fire. Everything was destroyed except for Minnie, which had been stored in a member’s barn at the time.
Minnie still graces the department today, as a symbol of the department’s history and dedication to the community, and will be displayed prominently in the new station.
Following the fire, the community came together to support construction of the current station, which opened in 1966. Although the community the station serves has expanded more than ten times, the facility has not grown.
Sutton said the station was built for apparatus to be housed there, not for station personnel to live there.
Over the years, the membership and the apparatus have grown. There are more than 80 members, with nine required to staff the station at any given time.
The station has far exceeded its life span and presents significant physical limitations that do not meet the needs of the community or national standards.
“To staff everything properly, we’d need 20 members here,” Albrecht said.
Albrecht said that when fully staffed, some members are forced to sleep in the apparatus, because there aren’t enough beds. The exercise room is in the middle of the kitchen, and the failing septic field has turned into a “maintenance nightmare.”
“This begins another chapter in the department, as we move forward to get us up to speed with fire service,” he said.
For more information or to make a donation, go to www.ldvfd.org or call 301-948-0794.