This past humid Saturday afternoon around 3:20 pm, a neighbor diagonally across the street from the River Falls Fire Department heard a loud crashing noise at the firehouse. When they stood outside their home, they saw that the roof structure had collapsed. The neighbor then called Lois Keenan, a River Falls Firefighter Volunteer, and told her to rush out here as quickly as possible. She was on a medical call when the roof collapsed… while her “fire home” was falling down to pieces.
When Lois Keenan arrived at the scene, she was shocked and concerned as she told the neighbor, “I am so glad no one was inside when the roof collapsed.” Lois then proceeded to call Assistant Fire Chief of River Falls Fire Department, Kevin Owens, to alert him of this travesty.
When he arrived at the firehouse, he first cut the power off at the meter box so no one would be electrocuted while walking around the inside of the building assessing the damages. He put up yellow caution tape to keep people away from the fallen roof pieces inside and outside the firehouse. Thankfully, all the fire equipment was out of the bay area.
When the roof collapsed, the black beams pushed back. The peak of the ceiling is lying in the floor in a “v” position in the bay area of the firehouse. The roof is now an inverted angle and is starting to sag more.
“We might have been able to fix the roof, but there is no sign of that now…ceiling members are on the floor, it is null and void, and we are past that point,” states Assistant Fire Chief of River Falls, Kevin Owens.
What happens next? River Falls Fire Department Fire Chief David Embry states that the “River Falls Fire Commissioners are moving forward to obtain demolition and asbestos permits. DHEC will be conducting a survey of the damages and then grant us the Asbestos Abatement Permit. We then find a contractor to come in and remove the asbestos from the property. From there, we will BE REQUIRED to tear down the front bay area of the firehouse because of safety concerns.”
This is “divine intervention,” proclaims Fire Chief David Embry. Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Owens believes this intervention “has validated that we have a genuine need for a firehouse. It has been a learning process of how to get a firehouse and working together with Greenville County Council, River Falls Community, and all the River Falls Firefighters. Now, we need to work together on a compromise with everybody…take a little bit of this group’s idea with a little bit from another group and make this situation work!” Deb Gravely, River Falls Fire Department Firefighter Volunteer, agrees with Assistant Chief Owens. “It’s over now! We need to quit bickering…the roof is down. We need to come together as a community now.”
These volunteer firefighters had two major fatalities in the last five days, more calls in the last 2 weeks than in the last two months. Deb Gravely affirms, “We are solid as a unit. We can handle any situation as a team, but it is hard to come up with a game plan huddled together under a tent. We serve our community and we need someplace to call…HOME.”
Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill desires to come alongside these efforts of his constituents. “I want to get them what they need, and want the best for these 1st Responders. I will support them in what they want to do. These firefighters have been suffering a long time. I want to see everyone in this community come together,” Greenville County Councilman Dill affirms.
Divine powers ruptured the roof of the firehouse, now divine power needs to restore the hearts of the people of River Falls and bring them to a unified front…a consensus of the people.
As it says in II Chronicles 7:14 - “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Let the healing begin in the communities’ hearts so these first Responders can continue healing and rescuing injured bodies.