HOUSTON – County farmer Steve Petit recently directed $2,500 to the Thorn Volunteer Fire Department through America’s Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Bayer Fund.
As part of their mission Thorn Fire Department will use the funds to help start the process of building a new Fire Station to house equipment and providing more emergency services to the Thorn Community, said Thorn VFD Assistant Chief Andy Harmon.
Harmon said this week, “We appreciate Steve applying for the grant for us. A new fire station is the department’s biggest need for two reasons. First, the department has more vehicles and equipment than it can house at the current station.
“Second, a new fire station will help us keep our present Class 8 rating.” If the department’s rating falls to a 9 or 10, fire insurance premiums for area homeowners could rise.
“We’ve got two pumper trucks housed at our present station, and three tankers and several other trucks scattered through the community in barns and farm sheds. We need to get all our equipment under one roof.”
He said the department hopes to raise enough funds through donations and grants “in the next few years” to begin construction of a new fire station.
If enough money is raised, the department will likely look at financing the remaining cost of the building, Harmon said.
Ideally, the new station would be a one- floor metal building of about 2,400 square feet. It would not only house the department’s vehicles, but have enough space for a meeting room for community events.
If a new station is built, the present one would be used for equipment storage.
He said the department already has land for the building on CR 405 (Thorn Road), donated by the Watkins family several years ago. The site is already prepped and ready for dirtwork, he said.
The 18-member department has an area of operation that covers about five square miles and about 600 households. Founded in the 1980s, it is one of the county’s oldest volunteer departments, he said. The department answered 60-80 calls last year, mostly medical calls and structure fires.
Each year, the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program partners with local farmers to provide grants to local nonprofits.
Sponsored by the Bayer Fund, the program provides farmers the opportunity to support and give back to nonprofit organizations they care about in their local communities by enrolling for a chance to direct a $2,500 donation to a nonprofit of their choice.
The Bayer Fund, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farmers and Bayer employees live and work by providing funding for food and nutrition, education, and community development projects.
Since 2010, the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program has given more than $33 million to over 8,000 nonprofits across rural America.