Vista Fire Dept Sets Blood Drive and Open House

The Vista Fire Department is celebrating the completion of the renovations on its firehouse in South Salem with an open house and blood drive this weekend.

The event will be held Saturday at the firehouse at 337 Smithridge Road from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will also mark the fire department's 70th anniversary.

“We’ve been doing reconstruction on the firehouse for the past two years,” said Peter Raho, a member of the Vista Fire District Commission and vice president of the Vista Fire Department. “It was built in 1954 and had an addition put on in the 1970s, but with the increase in calls it needed to be updated.”

The renovations include more storage space for equipment, a new modern kitchen, the addition of an elevator, and construction to make it ADA (American Disability Act) compliant.

“The building and the bathrooms are now wheelchair accessible,” Raho said.

The renovations also added a new training area for EMT classes, and a new recreation room.

“[The rec room] provides a greater draw to have people in the facility and be there when calls come in,” Raho said. “Also, we are suffering from the need for more volunteers and this makes a more pleasant environment so that people would be more inclined [to join as a volunteer].”

The total cost of the renovation was $4 million -- $750,000 of which was provided by the Vista Fire District from its savings account and the rest came from a $3.25 million bond.

The June 11 event combines an open house with a blood drive.

“We hold a blood drive with the New York Blood Center twice a year in January and June,” Raho said. “So, we invite the community to roll up its sleeves and help replenish the blood supply and have a tour of the firehouse.”Raho said donating blood takes about an hour and that an experienced staff will be on hand to help out with the procedure.

“We are very proud of [the renovated firehouse] and want people to check it out,” he added. “We’ve come a long way.”

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