Sending out a distress call… Stoney Creek VFD #2 crumbling away daily

Published 8:35 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com

Members of the Stoney Creek Volunteer Fire Department Station are hoping a Haunted House fundraiser will help provide much-needed funds to rebuild a crumbling station.

The building at Station 2 was initially built by the Unaka High School Building and Trade more than 40 years ago in an effort to provide expanded coverage in the district. However, crumbling walls and foundation issues threaten the stability of the building.

“We took all the concrete out of the floor and everything about 17 to 18 years ago and put in new rock and compacted it and re-poured the floor and here we are today,” said Fire Chief Benny Lyons. “These living quarters were completely redone, and it’s been cracking now for several years and it has gotten worse and worse and worse.”

Lyons said erosion issues combined with the weight of the four fire trucks — 56,000 pounds each plus 48,000 pounds of water in the tanks — are causing the floor and walls to crumble.

“We seem to think that this lot was filled prior to the class building on it and also that the creek may be coming in above the building and coming underneath the building and going back out and that could be what is causing the erosion,” he said.

Two parcels of land have been purchased directly across Highway 91 for the construction of a new fire station when funds become available. Plans for the new station include a five-bay building with living quarters large enough to rent out for community events.

“We will stay in here until we get the new building built or it starts to be a hazard to be in here,” Lyons said. “(The crumbling wall) is a load-bearing wall, so that is holding the weight of your trusses back here. If that wall gives out, we are done — we are out of here.”

Lyons said a new station will likely cost $450,000 to construct. “Right now through fundraising, we have raised right around $100,000. We are going to finish this Haunted House fundraiser which goes every bit toward our building fund,” he said.

“Once we reach $150,000, we are going to talk about borrowing money to get a loan and go ahead and build it before the prices keep going up,” Lyons said. “Instead of replacing one of our engines this year with a new one, we bought a used engine and that saved us money toward (the fund).”

Lyons said building the new station in the designated area is critical to helping maintain residents’ ISO ratings. The ISO rating is how insurance companies determine a homeowner’s cost of mortgage insurance. “If the fire department wasn’t here, the ISO rating would be the highest it could go at a 10 and we are a five right now. If the fire department wasn’t here, residents might not even be able to get insurance and if they did, it would be so high they couldn’t afford it.”

With 25 volunteers covering three stations in the Stoney Creek area, fires are not the only emergency that draws a response as the fire stations also respond to wrecks, rescues on Watauga River, floods, and even to assist residents in pumping water out of basements at no charge.

“People don’t really realize how valuable a fire department is until you make that 911 call and then they are the most valuable thing around,” Lyons said.

The Haunted House fundraiser continues on Oct. 16, Oct. 22, Oct. 23, Oct. 28, Oct. 29, and Oct. 30.

“We had the Haunted House 20 years ago and stopped,” Lyons shared. “We thought this would be a good way not to bum people for money but you are giving them something for it. If you feel in your heart to support us, we greatly appreciate it and we are here to help the community.”

The Haunted House is opened from 6:30 p.m. until the last person screams and is located at 107 Willow Springs Road in Elizabethton. The cost of admission is $10 per person.