Union Fire Co. eager to restore two historic buildings

Hope is work will be completed in the next five years

MATTHEW SHINKLE/The Sun
The township’s Union Fire Company was previously housed in a building like this one on the same land more than 100 years ago. Now the company hopes to restore the structure, after years of weather and animal damage.

After years of discussion and more passive attempts to restore two buildings under control of the township’s Union Fire Company, its members are now working together with the common goal of preserving and showcasing township history in the near future. 

According to former Fire Chief Rich Plowman, the fire company owns two buildings on or relatively near the grounds of the Union Fire Company building, one of which contains antique firefighter vehicles and equipment and space for township EMS services. The second building is a replica of the original fire hall on the same land where  it once stood. 

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Both are in need of serious restorations, which Plowman and others hope can be made within the next five years. 

“We have that replica building on the original land where the first firehouse stood,” he said. “We want to restore that building before it collapses or falls apart, because it’s a historical site for Medford Township. And then, what we’d like to do with the building next to the current firehouse – which is shared with our EMS services – is turn that building into a museum … That way, we could display our antique equipment, fire trucks and more, because we really do have a lot of that stuff.

“We’d love to restore that building so that we could open it up to the public to allow them to come in and see that stuff,” Plowman added.

Plowman believes the projects could end up costing about $100,000, with the lion’s share of funds going toward work that would potentially result in a museum dedicated to Union Fire Co. history. 

Acquiring and preserving historical artifacts and equipment, pertinent to both the township and Burlington County, is something the fire company has continued to do over the years. With so much equipment being behind so many doors at the current firehouse, Plowman felt it was time for such equipment to finally be put on display. 

“We really want to be able to display this equipment that is currently not out there to the public, and not just to Medford Township, but to Burlington County and anyone else that wants to come and see it,” he explained. “We have plenty of history here that a lot of people I’d guess don’t even know exists: old airpacks, original leather buckets from early fire wagons, older vehicles.

“It’s history that they don’t know is within their community,” Plowman added. “We’re excited about the possibility of doing this. We want to be able to pass this on to future generations and create a place where this kind of stuff can be on display.”

In order to accomplish such projects, the Union Fire Company – already pretty active throughout the community – expects to increase its community activities, starting with  partnering for the Operation Yellow fundraiser in Medford in October.

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