Pittsburg Fire DepartmentBuilding Pittsburg NH's Fire Station

August 2, 1999 Byline: LORNA COLQUHOUN: New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent

With sirens, fanfare and joy Saturday, this building Pittsburg NH's Fire Station community at the top of New Hampshire celebrated the completion of its new fire station that was 10 years in the dreaming and just one year in the building. More than the center of public safety in the far north, the sprawling station is a testament to what made it possible the brotherhood of firefighters, a volunteer department that sacrificed much of its time and the enduring spirit of a fallen comrade. "None of us including the firemen ever imagined that at this time, a building of this magnitude would have been completed as it is today in just one year," said Selectman Burnham "Bing" Judd. "This never would have happened without the support of many people from far and near. The generosity that has been bestowed upon us is overwhelming." More than 10 years ago, the volunteer fire department recognized both the need for a new station and the necessity of building one with as little tax impact as possible. The more the town grew, the wider spread equipment was. The largest town in the state, with a Main Street that runs 30 miles to the Canadian border, Pittsburg has long been a sportsman's haven, but its residents work hard to earn their livings. So over the past decade, the fire department held fundraisers the annual auction, assorted bake sales, dances and bean suppers accumulating money toward a replacement station for the cramped quarters that was built in 1961. Two years ago, when violence killed Fire Chief Leslie Lord, who was also a state trooper, contributions in his memory poured into the department from all over the country. Lord, state trooper Scott Phillips, Colebrook Judge Vickie Bunnell and newspaper editor Dennis Joos were killed Aug. 19, 1997, in Colebrook, when Colebrook resident Carl Drega went on a shooting spree. He was later killed by police. Bolstered by commitments from firefighters from across the region who said they would lend a hand, Pittsburg began planning for its new building. A year ago Saturday, more than 500 people showed up for A Call to Brotherhood and in just three days, put up the 10,000 square foot building. Since then, the local firefighters gave their nights and weekends to complete it and on Saturday, everyone was invited back to celebrate.

"This is unreal it's amazing," said Micol Greenwood, Raymond's deputy fire chief, who worked on the building last year. "They've done a lot of work since then. This is beautiful." Several hundred people representing 20 New Hampshire towns from as far away as Londonderry and Newmarket came out for the afternoon's event, which began with a parade of apparatus from the old station to the new. The volunteer firefighters and their families led the march home, entering the driveway amid cheers and applause. "There was a sense of everyone coming together last year," said Raymond firefighter Rick Abelli. "It was amazing how well everyone worked together and how people from here came out of their way to thank us. You can't ever replace that feeling and you can't put a price on it." Two aerial ladders formed an arch at the entrance, from which an American flag fluttered in a hot, sporadic breeze. With ceremony and emotion, local officials gave the thanks of the town.

"Today we gather in Pittsburg not in sadness, not in work clothes, not with tools, but in celebration," said Berlin Fire Chief Paul Fortier, who helped coordinate last year's construction effort. "To celebrate not only the physical accomplishment of the fire station, but to celebrate the very spirit that made it possible. That spirit of the common good gives us the strength to overcome the horrors and sadness that come our way and allows us to heal. Many communities needed a new station, but we needed to build one." Pittsburg Fire Chief Sandy Young paid tribute to Lord, who served as chief from January 1997 until his death that August, unveiling a portrait painted by Brenda Kenney. "The portrait will be hung in the meeting room and will honor his years of dedication to the Pittsburg Fire Department," he said, his voice breaking. "We all know he carried the spirit."

Copyright 1999, 2002 Union Leader Corp.

Pittsburg Fire Department