Searching for a home

The Sweet Home Volunteer Fire-fighters Association is hoping to raise funds and construct a new building to serve as a firefighting museum, meeting area and community events center.

The item was listed among several fund-raising efforts the association has under way, including the ongoing fireworks, Sharing Tree and burnout funds, in a recent letter to potential donors.

“It stated in the letter that we were about $25,000 short in funding to build the building,” said President Jared Richey. The firefighters have some in-kind donations already committed.

The association proposes constructing the new building west of the Fire Hall.

The new building would house an antique Diamond T fire engine, which is now stored by the Oregon Department of Forestry Sweet Home Unit.

It also would serve as a display area for other firefighting relics and photos from Sweet Home Fire Department and Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District history.

The association has a variety of items, such as grills, tables, chairs and a mobile concessions stand, that it keeps stored at the Fire Hall, Richey said. “We don’t have enough room for all the stuff.”

It’s starting to encroach on the day-to-day business, he said. Some of it is stored at the Cascadia Substation, but that’s not a storage facility.

The new facility will be used for events and open to the public during those events, such as the pancake breakfast held annually during the Jamboree, Richey said. The public needs to be able to be able see the museum pieces.

The Diamond T is used in parades, Richey said. Other pieces include the department’s first air packs, glass lamps, bug grinder sirens and other memorabilia.

The association possesses boxes full of photos, Richey said, many of them were taken by former Fire Marshal Keith Gabriel, who died in 2001.

“I think in reality, he’s kind of the instigator.” Richey said. “I wish Keith was still around to see us actually do it. We’ve always talked about it.”

Gabriel constantly took photos as a Fire Department volunteer, and he’s the one who wrote everything down, Richey said.

“There’s a lot of history in those boxes we’d like to get out for people to see. If we can get the funding, I’d like to have it done by next summer.”

Regarding other fund-raising efforts, the association was able to stretch out its fireworks show this year despite paying about half as much as it did to put on the last two shows. The last two years, the association has spent $7,500 on fireworks for Sportsman’s Holiday the second weekend of July. The fireworks included up to 5- and 6-inch shells, a bigger “boom” with a shorter duration.

The association used to spend about $4,500 on the show, using everything from 3-inch to 6-inch shells, Richey said. That lasted about 15 to 18 minutes, so the department bought a longer show. The cost increased to $7,500.

When the association fell short of what it needed for that show, it reverted to the $4,500 package, Richey said. This time, the association went with 3- and 4-inch shells €“ smaller shells, but more of them. The show lasted about half an hour this year.

“I’ve heard nothing but positive things,” Richey said. “It actually worked out quite well.”

Association members have talked about it, and with the response to the show, they intend to continue the show at that level, Richey said.

The major fund-raising event for the fireworks is the pancake breakfast on Saturday and Sunday at the Fire Hall. It raises about $2,000. A poker run hosted by Sweet Home Choppers will be held in August. It raised about $800 last year.

The association is considering bringing partners on to run the fireworks show, Richey said. The community has made it clear it doesn’t want the fireworks to go away, so the association needs to find some kind of stable funding for it.

For more information about the association, its programs or donating, contact the fire department at (541) 367-5882.