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Toga emergency shelter underway

Construction is well underway for the Toga Volunteer Fire Department’s (TVFD) Emergency Shelter Project.

Once completed, this addition to the firehouse located at 1779 Mount Rush Highway will provide emergency shelter and support for both the Toga community and Buckingham County.

According to TVFD Fire Chief Brian Bates, fire department members have been working to bring the project to fruition for more than three years.

Once completed, the shelter will allow Toga to provide emergency shelter services during times of need, particularly during man-made or natural disasters. The site will include both men’s and women’s restrooms with showers for citizen use during times like extended power outages following a hurricane or ice storm.

The shelter will also include a new kitchen that will allow TVFD to offer meals to the public during these types of emergencies. The entire facility will also be supported by a back-up generator to ensure electrical power at all times. Additionally, the fire department will be able to use the space for training and fundraising activities.

Bates said that in order to prepare for such a large project, the fire department  spent countless hours and resources to ensure its apparatus and equipment were up to date and ready to serve over the long term, including purchasing a new brush truck, refurbishing the tanker, purchasing a new jaws of life as well as new turnout gear for firefighters. The project was officially started Sept. 28.

“Having done this necessary work to ensure our core functions could be met, we then turned our attention to this project so that we could enhance our core services to the community,” he noted.

Bates said the role of a fire department has evolved since TVFD was formed in 1972. This project will help firefighters in Toga to meet the more complex demands required of fire departments.

The project will also increase many residents’ proximity to a nearby shelter, as the nearest existing facilities of similar level are located in Dillwyn and Appomattox.

According to Bates, the design-build project was awarded to Jamerson-Lewis Construction, Inc. of Lynchburg, with substantial completion of the project expected in March of 2021. Steel framing for the project was erected just last week.

Bates said the COVID-19 pandemic did impact the fire department’s ability to conduct its primary fundraiser this year. However, the department is meeting the needs of its project through innovative fundraising efforts including a recent gun raffle and Brunswick stew sale. There are sponsorship opportunities available for both individuals and businesses interested in supporting this project, and as a 501 (c4) non-profit, financial contributions to TVFD are tax-deductible. The project also has its own GoFundMe page.

“The dedicated men and women of TVFD have been the core strength of the development of this project,” Bates said.  “Their vision and work on this project as well as on our fundraising efforts, combined with philanthropic support from our donors and also the annual support from Buckingham County have all made this project possible.

“There is a sense of excitement in our community now that the construction has commenced. The members of TVFD are really pleased to be able to enhance our fire service capabilities for the community with this addition to our facility.”

Those interested in contributing should contact Bates at (434) 547-9670 or by email at Togavfd1972@gmail.com.