Farmersville sells old fire station to FUSD

Farmersville’s old fire station on the corner of Front Street and Magnolia Avenue in Farmersville, Ca.(Rigo Moran)

Farmersville Unified School District buys the old fire station for $1, has plans to transform the space into a Family Resource Center now that the city no longer has use for it

FARMERSVILLE – After getting the ball rolling on its new fire station, the school district is transforming the building once used as the fire station into a Family Resource Center to support the community.

Now that the city of Farmersville is getting a new fire station, the city is selling the building previously used by the fire department to the Farmersville Unified School District. The building on the corner of Front Street and Magnolia Avenue has been used for storage and various training exercises since the fire department started operating out of city hall. The school district is purchasing the building for on singular dollar before they put around $300,000 into renovating it for the resource center they hope will be ready for use by fall of 2024.

“We want to develop a Family Resource Center like a one-stop-shop, where we can have access to all of the different non profit organizations that exist – that already do wonderful work with the community – and have them all under one roof,” Farmersville Unified School District superintendent Dr. Sergio C. Chavez said.

According to Chavez, the Family Resource Center will be network connected with other nonprofits in the area and allow locals to access help for a multitude of issues in one place. He explained the community needs this service because kids won’t be able to perform to the best of their ability in school when they have bigger issues at home they are already struggling with.

 So far the school district has partnered with around 14 organizations and is still looking for more nonprofits who want to support residents in the Farmersville community. Some of the organizations that have partnered with the school district include The Source, Sequoia Youth, United Way and others.

Although the building will serve Farmersville students by acting as a resource center for their families, Chavez noted that the district has plans to widen up the center’s services to others, like senior citizens or residents of other communities.

“If they’re from Exeter, they won’t be turned away – nobody will be turned away,” said Chavez.

In order to tackle the issues of the community, the resource center wants to address the negative effects of COVID, combined with poverty and everything in between, that way students can overcome the obstacles that might hinder them. Once all their basic needs are met, Chavez said students can then focus on the number one thing: academic achievement.

“They will be getting what we call wraparound treatment. That means all of the other services… social and emotional support, economic support, housing support, food support, legalization support, assisting young teenagers assisting children that are LGBTQ+ who need support systems – all of the different things you can think of,” Chavez said.

He continued to say that it is important that the building is separate from the school so parents don’t feel like they are disrupting their kids’ lives by needing assistance.

“We understand the premise, that the people who live in this community are very proud working people  with a lot of dignity,” Chavez said. “A lot of times, when families are facing issues of economic hardship, they don’t like to air out their concerns at the school where their children attend.”

The school district was originally looking for a space to rent for the new center; however, Chavez said the city informed the district they had a building up for grabs.

“We decided to go for that place, and the city was gracious enough; we’re eternally grateful to them for giving us such an easy access to that building,” Chavez said. “(It’s) in the heart of the community and it’s on a corner, so it’s easily accessible.”

Historically, the building was the town’s previous fire station before it had to set up shop at city hall for some time; however, the old building was not the ideal space for the fire department to utilize.

“It was never built to be a fire station, it just got converted into a fire station,” Gomez said.

The building was sold by Tulare County to Farmersville originally in the 1980s. Gomez said it is a cinderblock building that is too small for the use of the fire department. Not only was the ceiling too low to have the fire trucks drive into the building, but there was not enough room for the fire department to grow and expand with the city.

According to a previous interview with The Sun-Gazette, the former Farmersville Mayor Paul Boyer recalled during a ceremonial check presentation in October 2022 that, in the old building, the firefighters had to take measures like lowering the tire pressure on the trucks to fit them in the building.

The building is not centrally located either, like the new fire station will be. This made it more difficult for the fire department to minimize their response time.

The fire department has not used the structure as a fire station for a number of years since they moved into city hall. Up until now, the city has only used the building for storage or training exercises for the fire and police departments. Now that the new fire department will have a designated space for training and storage, there is nothing stopping the city from selling it.

“It’s been on our radar for over 20 years to do this type of move,” Gomez said.

Now that the city has the space they need to function out of one building, the fire department can grow with the city while the school district can make better use of the old building.

According to Gomez in a previous interview with The Sun-Gazette, the new fire station will include new sleeping quarters, a gym, a common room with a fully functioning kitchen and any other necessities the firefighters need. The station is being designed to allow for the potential growth of the department over the years as well.

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