WAIMEA — For the past eight years — between carting crews to fight fires and other emergencies — one or two sizable fire trucks have sat in Captain Mike Shattuck’s front yard.
One day soon they will be moved to their permanent home nearby, currently nearing completion.
On July 20, local residents, firemen, county and state officials gathered at the end of Shattuck’s street for an open house of a new building that sits smack dab between the Anekona Estates and Ouli subdivisions.
One day soon it will house a bright yellow engine pumper and a 6×6 tanker, along with hoses, pumps, parts and protective gear used by Hawaii Fire Department’s (HFD) 9-B Volunteer Fire Company, more commonly known as 9 Bravo. But to do so, $25,000 will need to be raised to buy a fire hydrant, security, plumbing and electric to complete the facility.
“We wanted a better place to put the truck than in the captain’s front yard, so that’s what started this project,” Guido Giacometti said, who set up Anekona Ouli Kanehoa VFD Co. (AOK) — a nonprofit that supports 9 Bravo — in 2011. “We recognized their need for our support.”
The new building sits halfway between the Waimea and Mauna Lani fire stations. The land on which it sits was leased through a generous agreement with Hale Wailani Partners, LLC, an investment group based in Los Angeles.
“The lease began in 2014 and runs for 99 years at $1 per year,” Shattuck said. “Use is restricted to fire department use. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Greg Mooers to negotiate the land lease.”
After reaching the agreement, plans were prepared and permits received to construct the 2,000-square-foot building.
Volunteer firefighters first banded together in 2009 to help county firemen protect South Kohala. 9 Bravo now consists of eight volunteers who are trained and dispatched by HFD to battle blazes around the island — all without pay.
“They’ve experienced very dangerous fires in this area, and Fire Captain Mike is remarkably competent and an important part of it all,” Giacometti said.
AOK operates with donations and grants to buy equipment and supplies that the County of Hawaii Fire Department cannot afford due to budget constraints. Neighbors help with grant writing, construction management, planning and administration.
Construction of the new building began in December 2016 after four years of fundraising. Money has come from two state and three county grants, and private foundation grants from the Richard Smart Trust, the Atherton Family Foundation, the Cooke Foundation and the Reid Foundation.
“Neighbors, including those that live in the Mauna Kea Bluffs and Waikii Ranch, provided smaller but important donations too,” Giacometti said.
The major elements of the building are now complete, but a number of items are still needed.
“A fire hydrant, security fencing, gates and other details must be finished in order to obtain an occupancy permit,” he said.
AOK budgeted $325,000 for the project — less than half of the cost if the project had been done by the county — of which $300,000 has already been raised. Volunteers aim to obtain the remaining funds by the end of the year.
“I call myself the corporate beggar,” Giacometti said. “We’ll need another $25,000 in donations. Costs always jump up, too, so we hope that our neighbors in the South Kohala resort communities will see the value in its work and assist in completing the facility.”
9 Bravo was given their first truck in 2010.
“HFD assigned a 1969 surplus ‘brush truck’ with a 300-gallon tank which was meant to travel off road. It helped, but often needed to be repaired during each emergency,” Shattuck said. “Tanker 9 was purchased at auction in 2012 by AOK, and donated to HFD. The tank, pumps, lights and other equipment were added.”
Around 25 years ago, Shattuck’s house almost burned down twice from brush fires. The fire departments in Waimea and Mauna Lani saved it both times. This motivated him to join the volunteer team shortly after moving into his current home in 2007.
9 Bravo not only helps with fires in South Kohala, but often respond to calls from as far south as Kona and as far north as Hawi.
“We also go out to Honokaa and we will respond as far south as Paauilo. Wherever they need our help, we’ll go,” Shattuck said.
Tax deductible donations to help complete 9 Bravo’s new facility can be mailed to AOK, P.O. Box 7121, Kamuela, Hawaii 96743. Info: Call Guido Giacometti at 896-3849.