Boyertown's ‘Hookies' gets a facelift

Photo by Lynn A. Gladieux
Photo by Lynn A. Gladieux

With buckets and tarps in hand, it didn’t take long for Todd Gamler and other members of the Boyertown Friendship Hook & Ladder Fire Company’s board to recognize this winter’s heavy snowfalls had taken its toll on the roof of the landmark building.

So, with bids having been already procured, the decision was recently made to move forward to replace the 12-year-old roof, and on April 14, under clear skies, the William B. Carr & Co. Construction Company took over, ripping off the old roof and replacing it with large, pre-made trusses intended to change the entire pitch of the roofline.

With the weather cooperating and construction moving quickly, board members expect it will be at the beginning of May when they are able to reveal a new, quite different-looking building, just in time for a new, quite different-looking fire company.

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The project, under the direction of Gamler and board treasurer Allen Steffy, comes just in time for the planned merger of the fire company with Keystone Steam Fire Engine Company of Boyertown and Liberty Fire Company of Colebrookdale.

The new, merged, company will be known as the Boyertown Area Fire and Rescue Company and will use the call name of Berks County Station 95. They will be responsible for providing fire and rescue services to Boyertown, Colebrookdale and the northern half of Douglass (Berks) Township. They are expected to go live July 1.

With the merger of the three companies, the Hookies, as it is known, will soon be home to additional trucks and equipment brought over by Keystone and Liberty, and the threat of damage to that equipment by a constantly leaking roof was all the impetus the board needed to get the roofing job done quickly.

The new roof, with its staggered, dormered pitch, will give the building an updated look, mirroring the rooflines of many of its downtown neighbors. But Steffy said more than being aesthetically pleasing, the pitched roof was also more economically feasible than going with another flat roof.

“We looked at flat roofs and got quotes,” Steffy said. “But we had to replace the old one after only 12 years. This roof will cost half as much over time, and while we are spending an extra $8,000 now, we will be getting an extra 20 years of life out of it down the road. It makes sense to make the investment.”

The money for the roof project, projected to come in at $185,000, was saved through fundraisers and local funding appeals and also comes from the group’s social club, which accounts for a large chunk of the group’s income. While any money the group raises is usually reserved for the purchase of trucks and other new equipment, Steffy said the group has managed over the years to squirrel away money for projects such as this.

Once the roof is completed and the merger has taken place, Gamler said the social club will sever its official relationship with the fire company and become a separate entity, although it will still support the fire department. The social club’s bylaws are currently being rewritten to include language which will allow the club to operate on its own.

“Our purpose is to have two things now: a functioning fire operation and a functioning social operation, so now we have to reword that so that we are no longer a fire department operation but instead just a social club supporting a fire operation,” Gamler said.

Gamler is optimistic the facility will be ready for upcoming events scheduled for the group’s social hall this coming spring and summer. “As long as the weather cooperates, we’ll be ready,” he said.