Community to get better protection

Published 5:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2004

MONTICELLO – The Tilton community soon will see improved fireprotection with completion of the Tilton Substation of the TopekaVolunteer Fire Department, county officials said Friday.

The announcement came as regional and county officials, firedepartment volunteers and District Three residents celebrated thepresentation of $99,000 grant for a new fire truck.

Once the Topeka VFD receives the new truck, one of the existingtrucks will be transferred to the new Tilton Substation onGivens-Mullins Road, which should be completed in a few months.

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“We just lack finishing the bathrooms in it for it to becomplete,” said District Three Supervisor Calvin Rutland.

The new substation is similar to the Center Substation, he said,with two bays and a small kitchen/meeting area.

Topeka VFD Chief Royce Renfroe said he has been working withRutland for several years to fund the new station and wasappreciative of the supervisor’s efforts in getting it done. Thestation was needed because access to that area of the county waslimited and caused slower response times.

“Response times, because of the access to the area, weredifficult to get down,” he said. “With a substation there, and agroup of volunteers from that area, response times will bequicker.”

Some residents of the Tilton community have already approachedRenfroe and Rutland about volunteering for the new station.

“We have a few volunteering, but we’ll need more when itactually opens,” Renfroe said.

All volunteers at Topeka, Center and Tilton are members of theTopeka VFD and can and do respond to fires assigned to any station,Renfroe said. However, having a volunteer force and the equipmentit needs in the area greatly increases the chances of saving livesand structures.

Renfroe encouraged interested residents to contact a volunteerfor more information.

“My goal is for Tilton to get organized and stabilized withvolunteers that can respond both during the day and at night,” hesaid. “It will take a community effort. Everyone will have to pulltogether to make it a good fire department.”

County and fire officials expect the Tilton substation to beoperational by late fall or early winter.

“We’re going to try to have it open by November,” Rutland said.”We’ve made a request to (the Justice Department) to move thevoting precinct over there to bring us in compliance with thefederal disabilities law.”

The current voting precinct is at Holmes Store, a country storethat has been closed for several years and is only opened onelection days to allow voting. The restroom facilities at the storeare not handicap accessible, he said.

“All districts must be in compliance with those disabilitieslaws by 2006,” Rutland said.

Topeka and Center voters also cast their ballots at the firestations.

The new substation cost the county approximately $35,000,Rutland said, and was funded through a 1 mill assessment set asideby the county for fire protection.

Future uses of those funds, he said, include renovating thebathroom facilities at the Center substation. Eventually, he said,they hope to be able to purchase a new truck at the Centersubstation also.