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After 50 years, Graton has new firehouse

By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Graton’s all-volunteer fire department has moved into its new, $3.5 million station, a project that took 30 years and is occurring on the department’s 60th anniversary.

Volunteers for the Graton Fire Department gather for the beginning of a drill in the new firehouse on Highway 116 North in Graton. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)

“It is a huge accomplishment for the district to get this completed, to provide a place for all fire engines to be inside, a place for firefighters to hang out, and it doesn’t leak,” said Bill Bullard, deputy chief for the Graton Volunteer Fire Department.

At 14,000 square feet, the station has room for the department’s equipment, a training tower, classroom, dorm rooms, a gym, day-room with overstuffed chairs and a 60-inch TV, kitchen, offices and a report-writing room for sheriff’s deputies.

It replaces a 1940s former train depot, complete with knotty pine walls, used as the station since the fire department was formed in 1951. That station was three times smaller and required parking one engine in an outside canvas carport and another at a nearby house.

The new one “was designed to serve the needs of the community for 75 years,” Bullard said.

The fire district has been planning and saving for the new station for 30 years, with some controversy along the way over the use of a World War II-era air raid siren to call volunteers during emergencies.

Fire officials contend the siren, now repainted and prominently displayed on the roof, is the only sure way to call the 30 volunteers to fire calls because there are pockets in the west county where pagers and cellphones do not receive signals.

In a compromise approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, the siren can be used at noon, during the daytime for emergencies and at night only in the case of fires or major accidents.

Since the station opened on July 23, the siren has been used seven times, none at night, Bullard said.

A full size kitchen and a downtime area at the new Graton fire station, Thursday July 28, 2011. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2011

The new station is on Gravenstein Highway between Graton and Green Valley roads, in the middle of the 27 square miles the department serves.

It was designed by Santa Rosa architect Richard Burton and built by Wright Construction of Santa Rosa.

It is situated on the 9.2-acre Davis Tree Farm, bought by the district in 2006 for $1.25 million.

The district, which has no paid employees, receives its funding from property taxes and has a $600,000 annual budget.





4 Responses to “After 50 years, Graton has new firehouse”

  1. Good for you Dan for supporting your local VFD. You are not the average. I still contend that the “majority” of people in this county know nothing about the other 15 VFD’s.

    If you do a search for “volunteer fire departments in Sonoma County”, there are no stories about them, except the 2 about Graton’s Fire Station and Siren.

    You would think that the PD would feature a story about VFD’s now and then so the general public is more aware that they are out there everyday – risking their lives for no pay while providing a public service.

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  2. Dan Delgado says:

    Volunteer,

    I certainy agree that our VFDs need our support, but I’m not sure I agree that most folks are unaware of their existence. We have for many years regularly attended pancake and polenta feeds put on by Goldridge/Hessel VFD, tri-tip/chicken BBQs by the Bloomfield VFD and other similar events by neighboring agencies. These events are always well attended and at times downright crowded. More substantially, we also voted in a property tax assessment a couple years ago that enabled Goldridge to purchase a new fire engine. So absolutely, support your VFDs. They are a valued and treasured resource as well as a conection to our historical past. But give us some credit too, we are well aware of them.

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  3. David J. Spencer says:

    Volunteer….

    No argument from me!!! I worked my way through college as a seasonal Firefighter with the California Division of Forestry in 1960-65 (back in them days you could pay college expenses by working as a seasonal Firefighter with either the CDF, now called Cal-Fire, or the U. S. Forest Service) and though I left fire-fighting services when I graduated from College I did gain a deep, abiding appreciation for what the fire-fighting folks do.

    VFD deserves its new digs, and it means that VFD will be around for a long time to come.

    Good for that!!!

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  4. Good job Graton VFD.

    Graton is the busiest, all volunteer fire dept in Sonoma County responding to over 500 calls per year.

    A Question for the WSC readers:

    If someone called YOU on the phone right now … someone you never met before ..and said, “HELP ME!” … would you GO ?
    Would you drop what you are doing right now – and go help them?

    My point is this:

    There are 15 other volunteer fire dept’s here in the county. Find the one nearest you and please support them.

    Most of them work out of barns. They answer the CALL FOR HELP for FREE and they can really use your support.

    Plus..if you are in the media, (hint hint PD) they can sure use some promotion. Most people in the county don’t know that these fine volunteers are out there saving peoples lives and property everyday & they ask for nothing in return.

    You can go here http://www.sonoma-county.org/des/fs_vfc_list.htm and see a list of the volunteer fire depts with most having links to their websites.

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