Firefighters to seal 50-year time capsule in new fire station

From left, Assistant Fire Chief Grady Shuey, Waldrop Construction project manager Tim Wilson and Fire Chief Del Albright stand outside the bay where fire trucks will be parked.

Tim Wilson of Waldrop Construction joked about how old he'll be when firefighters of the future open a wall vault that will contain a 50-year time capsule.

"I'll be 109 when they call me to fill in the hole in the wall," said Wilson, who is project manager for the new central fire station Waldrop Construction is building.

"I'll be 101," Brownwood Assistant Fire Chief Grady Shuey said.

The time capsule, which contains items including uniforms, boots, a helmet, fire service-related magazines, patches, photos and press clippings, will be sealed inside a wall sometime Saturday inside the new fire station. A Sept. 11, 2001 patch, which firefighters wear on their dress uniforms, will be included.

The last item to go in will be Saturday's edition of the Brownwood Bulletin with an article and photos about the time capsule.

Wilson, Shuey and Fire Chief Del Albright displayed the time capsule Friday. The items will be located in a wall vault inside a large room that will be a combination day room and kitchen.

The outside of the vault will have a plaque that instructs firefighters to cut open the vault on Oct. 1, 2064, and a dotted line on the wall will indicate where to cut, the three men explained.

Albright said firefighters knew there was a void in the wall and he started thinking about what to do to fill the void. "We decided we could do a time capsule," Albrght said. "We thought it would be a good idea for someone to open it up in 50 years and see what life was like in the station."

The 50-year time frame was chosen because that's expected to be the life of the two-story, 14,400-square-foot building, which is being funded by the sale of Certificates of Obligation bonds the Brownwood City Council approved in 2012. The council approved the bonds as part of a nearly $11 million city improvement project. Council members awarded a $2.99 million bid to Waldrop Construction of Brownwood to construct the station, which is being built on what had been the footprint of the former American Red Cross building and across from the Depot Civic and Cultural Center.

Construction has gone well, and the station is expected to be "substantially complete" by Sept. 1, Wilson said.

Shuey and Albright said the fire department will move in over a period of several days.

Friday afternoon, workers performed numerous tasks including preparing interior walls for texture and painting.

Albright said he's thrilled and happy with the job Waldrop is doing.

Shuey showed off rooms that will be used for purposes including living quarters, restrooms, kitchen, offices, storage, a workout room, places for air conditioning, storage, heating and electrical components, as well as the large bays where the fire trucks will be parked.

It's easy to think of a fire station as "a house with a garage attached," Shuey said. "There's a lot more to it than that. It's a business, a home, a kitchen, a restaurant, everything rolled into one."