Loudoun County Fire Considerations Horse Show Ground for New Philomont Volunteer Fire Department | New

Loudoun County Combined Fire & Rescue said it was considering recommending to the supervisory board the construction of the Philomont Volunteer Fire Department on the former horse show ground, located less than half a mile from the station.

The recommendation was included in a feasibility study shared on September 9 with more than 30 people attending the second county-hosted public information meeting for the project, held at Woodgrove High School.

Some residents said they were not happy with the process or the study, which included recommending staff to use the old equestrian fairground for a new station. If the property of the existing station is not to be used by the county in any other way, staff recommended the demolition of the existing facility and the construction of a new facility.

“We want career staff to have a safe and efficient fire hall with the necessary amenities, but on a smaller scale,” said Madeline Skinner, former owner of the Philomont general store which is adjacent to the fire hall.

Skinner urges county staff to delay further action until the community is satisfied the design meets the needs of the historic rural village.

The station’s proposal, which is located at 36560 Jeb Stuart Road in Purcellville, was evaluated and had several shortcomings by county and national standards. The request for a new station came before the Supervisory Board in 2017.

County officials said the original station and subsequent additions were not built or designed to allow for 24-hour occupancy and operations. As a result, fire and rescue officials say the station is lacking. of programmatic spaces needed to support staff living and working in the building, in a safe and efficient manner. Inadequate changing rooms and shower rooms as well as dormitories and non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act are among the shortcomings, according to county officials.

The results of the feasibility study will be presented to the supervisory board in October, according to county staff. The study included four projects, including the renovation of the existing facility, the demolition and construction of a new station, and the combination of the fire station with the adjacent community center.

The county’s capital improvement plan budget for the project is $ 21,856,000, which is lower than the costs of the feasibility study projects, according to county staff.

The department-owned Horse Show Grounds have several benefits, including eliminating the need for a temporary station and changing the ownership of the adjacent community center, according to Keith Johnson, head of the Combined Fire and Rescue System. of Loudoun County.

In addition, the construction of a fire station allows a single story station, a traditional septic system, shorter construction time, provides flexibility in the layout of the design, and the cost is within the project budget.

Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), who represents the area, was on hand for the briefing.

Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) speaking at the September 9 public briefing regarding the future of the Philomont Fire and Rescue Station.

“The only thing that escapes me is doing nothing,” Buffington told guests.

“Doing nothing for me is not an option,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of signs that say ‘let’s save $ 22 million and do nothing’, and for me that’s not an option.”

If the council goes ahead, a public hearing will be scheduled on the preliminary options of the architectural concept.

Supporters of building a new fire station said a new facility is needed to keep up with population growth in the region.

John Myers, president of the Loudoun Career Fire Fighters Association, said he supports the construction of a fire station on alternative land.

He said firefighters spend a third of their lives in a fire station and the current station is unsafe, with steep stairs and an inadequate exhaust gas capture system at the station that can lead to cancer.

“Trying to renovate the current station or put a new one in the same location is a bad choice and we shouldn’t have to create a space to work,” Myers said.

Johnson said the feasibility study raises concerns for members. He said the study includes plans for building the station on two floors, which is a concern as well as the floor plan being intrusive and less efficient.

“We have program issues and gaps,” Johnson said.

Meet Philomont |  Johnson

Keith Johnson, Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System Chief, during the public information session on September 9 on the future of the Philomont fire and rescue station.

“The feasibility study leaves us with more guesswork than a claim that our renovation and expansion can produce a facility that will meet our programmatic needs and provide a safe and efficient floor plan,” he said. . “Any renovation would consist of renovating the 63-year-old facility and bringing it up to today’s standards that we must meet, including ADA, [and] Fire prevention system. “

A mix of speakers spoke for and against the construction of the fire station.

Some said their concerns were about the size of devices in a rural area, and others were concerned about the potential threats of paving and road widening, and impacting the rustic view of the area.

One speaker asked staff to consider an alternate location for the station.

County officials said the proposed station – which would require seven acres of land – should be in the immediate area of ​​the current station.

The Snickersville Toll Highway serves as the main route for east-west travel through the community, with St. Louis Road and Silcott Springs Road serving as the main north-south route for the area.

More than 77 percent of residents in the Philomont area in November supported the county’s loan request, which included the costs of designing, building and equipping the replacement Volunteer Fire Department facility. Philomont.

The current station was built in 1956 and expanded twice and serves Philomont, Silcott Springs, Airmont, Unison, Foxcroft, Mountville and North Fork.

A decision on the station’s future will be submitted to the supervisory board on Oct. 5, according to county staff.

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