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Original firehouse closing after 77 years

FLORENCE, Ky. (Joe Webb) -- Members of the Florence Fire Department station number one will soon make their last run.
        
The 77-year-old firehouse will close next week when the city opens a brand new station on Bushelman Drive.  It was not clear Friday what will happen to the old building.  It was already carved out as a special place in city history.
 
Florence station one was little, it was old, but it was significant.  Built by volunteer firefighters it was and still is staffed by Florence's remaining 23 volunteers.

Chief Marc Muench said, "There's a lot of sentimentality. That building was built in 1937. It was the main fire station until 1964 when they built the station over on Industrial Road."
      
It served on Main Street in a  sleepy little town that was the region's retail hub and served by three newer fire stations.  Hundreds of volunteers fought fires out of station one.  Marty Thomas started volunteering there in 1974 and had great stories, including the night station one caught fire and the firefighters called dispatch.

Thomas said, "I said, 'We have a fire in the attic of fire station one.  Now I'm getting off the phone so we can move the apparatus out.'"
      
Not only did hundreds of volunteers fight fires from station one, like all firehouses, it served several purposes.  People voted there and the First Church of Christ started in the basement.

"It's kind of bittersweet," said Florence Mayor, Diane Whalen.  "The firehouse has been here as long as I can remember. My brownie scout troop met in the basement.  It was a community building.  It wasn't just a firehouse."
     
July 7 the building will become just a community building and cease to be a firehouse.  The building is too small for modern apparatus', expensive to maintain and cramped but the city plans to keep it.  Maybe as a museum, maybe not.  Whatever it becomes, it will continue to anchor Main Street and continue to serve. 

The fire department will hold a station farewell gathering Sunday, June 29 from 1p.m. to 5p.m.  They are inviting people in the community and all the department's former volunteers.  

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