Tommy VanderMey at Peninsula Fire Department's new Fire Station 3 on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Tommy VanderMey at Peninsula Fire Department's new Fire Station 3 | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Peninsula Fire Department’s new Fire Station 3 is now officially staffed, with Tommy VanderMey doing the honors as the first staffer there, beginning April 1. His uncle, Rich VanderMey, joined the fire department in 1975 at the age of 18 and worked his way up to chief by 1986, a position he held until he retired in 2013.

On the Peninsula Fire Department’s Facebook page, Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff wrote on April 1, “Today was a good day as we staffed Station 3 for the first time. Firefighter Tommy VanderMey did the honors. While it is the intent to have staff at the station every day and we are working hard to assure this happens, with current staffing, there may be days where we cannot.”

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He said that Peninsula Fire Department staffers have been called to help across the state with the pandemic, and they are trying to bring in new staff as quickly as possible, but it will take time.

“We do have paid on-call firefighters that live in the area of Station 3 that will respond from home, as well. For now, we will do the best we can and look forward to having this issue taken care of as fast and safely as possible.”

Tommy VanderMey at Peninsula Fire Department's new Fire Station 3 on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Tommy VanderMey at Peninsula Fire Department’s new Fire Station 3 | Jane Boursaw Photo

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new station on March 22, Gilstorff thanked everyone involved in bringing the station to fruition during a two-year process which started with the idea of renovating Lawrence Mlujeak’s garage in the village of Old Mission. When it was determined that the building wasn’t feasible, the decision was made to build the new fire station on Center Road, between Swaney Road and Tompkins Road.

“I want to give a special thanks to the Township Board for the support, for putting this into place and allowing us to build this,” he said, adding that they’ve had multiple donations from the community that helped with the project, including Golden Fowler in Traverse City, which donated all the furniture.

Others involved with the project include Project Manager Bill Thompson from Grand Traverse Construction, Jennifer Hodges from Gourdie-Frasier, and Architect Ray Kendra from Environment Architects.

“We still have some fine-tuning to do,” said Gilstorff of the new building, “but it’s going to be very serviceable, and it’s going to provide a heck of a service and quicker response to the citizens on the north end and hopefully help them save a little bit of money on their insurance.”

He added, “I pray that this station protects our firefighters and protects our residents who are on the north end.”

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A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

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