Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Ecum Secum fire hall needs major repairs or replacement

Fundraising effort underway

  • February 14 2024
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

ECUM SECUM — Most days, Ecum Secum’s fire hall looks like any other unassuming public building in any other town along the Eastern Shore. But, on this day, under a clear, blue February sky, Mike Durnford and Tiffany Pye are having a hard time describing it as anything but shabby.

“We’re cleaning the kitchen out today,” laughs Pye, a local firefighter and mom of two kids. “Yeah, it’s in bad shape,” nods Dunford, a retired civil servant who took over as the all-volunteer brigade’s chief last month. “The hall has kind of been neglected.”

This will soon change, if they have their way. Emboldened by a growing unease within the community about the shape of its emergency centre and gathering place, they are spearheading a fundraising campaign to thoroughly renovate the structure or, better yet, replace it.

Durnford prefers the second option.

“To fix it would cost a lot of money,” he says about the decades-old structure that needs work on its roof, floor, walls, bathroom and electrical system. “An engineer [we consulted] recommended that we should probably build a new one. Meanwhile, we’ve had contractors come through and they’ve all said [fixing it] would be way too much work for them.”

For Durnford and Pye, having a good building – which houses the 25-member fire department’s pumper and tanker trucks – is as much a matter of civic pride as practicality.

“We’re no longer a warming centre, because we don’t have handicap bathrooms and the kitchen is a mess,” Durnford says, about losing the official comfort centre designation the building had shared with its counterparts in Sherbrooke, Indian Lake/Jordanville and Port Bickerton from Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s until last year.

Adds Pye: “We want a nice kitchen... and to be a warming centre again, the spot you come to when there’s an emergency or anything... and for community events. We want to liven up the community.”

Neither knows precisely how much repairing, or replacing, the approximately 2,700-square-foot, one-storey fire hall will cost, but Durnford said the land is likely worth “over a hundred grand” based on recent real estate appraisals.

“We’re going to be fundraising a lot around the community, but there are also grants out there,” says Pye, who teamed up with five other Ecum Secum moms last year to raise $100,000 from municipal, provincial and private sources for a new community playground. “There is funding out there. We just need to find it.”

The next step, the two say, is spreading the word and shoring up local support. In a public notice delivered to homes and posted on social media last week, they wrote: “Our firehall needs attention. We’re forming a committee, and we need your help... Please reach out via our Facebook page or join us for a public meeting this month.”

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, at Ecum Secum Fire Hall, 24 Wharf Loop.