Sleepy Hollow. Just the mere mention of the name sends chills down the spines of those who know this town’s rich, haunted history. Beyond the spooky stories and folklore, this little town, located on the east bank of the Hudson River, is just like any other. It’s filled with ordinary residents who need to get things done, including retired Fire Chief Richard Gross who came to SteelMaster on a special mission. He needed a clear span Quonset HutTM garage to house an emergency vehicle.
Gross is currently the General Foreman for the Department of Public Works in Sleepy Hollow. To continue their life-saving efforts when their fire truck broke down, the fire department purchased a 1994 Mack Ladder truck, but there was a big problem—it was too large for their building. Chief Gross went on the hunt for suitable options.
He needed something that was easy to put up, affordable, and large enough for the ladder truck. The clear span Quonset Hut garage was the perfect solution.
Chief Gross says the size was one of the most important factors when it came to purchasing the building. The existing building where the old truck was housed only had a 10-foot door. Crews needed a door that was at least 12 feet high for the new ladder truck. Gross says his first choice was a Quonset Hut. The crews in the neighboring town purchased one, and he was already aware of their strength, efficiency, and ability to handle harsh weather conditions.
That’s when he started his own search for a building.
“I just typed in “Quonset Hut,” and a bunch of names popped up. One of them was yours,” says Chief Gross.
Gross says he requested quotes from several other companies, and SteelMaster gave him the most reasonable price. After making the final purchase and getting his blueprints, his building finally arrived.
“When the building arrived on the flatbed, I thought to myself, ‘Did I make a major mistake here?’” admitted Gross.
He says when he initially saw all of the parts, it felt overwhelming to him. Once he started to build, the process become much easier.
“I said, ‘Man, I’m in way over my head on this one.’ They were having a little difficulty putting it up, then when the second one [arch] went up, they got into a routine. I had enough people there, and they were building them on the ground. Within a matter of two weeks, we had all of the arches up,” says Gross.
Gross and his well-organized crew started the process even before the building arrived. They had already set the foundation for the building and were just waiting for the arches to be delivered.
He says during the building process, the temperature started to drastically change, but that did not stop his hard-working crew from pressing on. They were working in some of the most frigid temperatures, and even when their hands started to become extremely cold, they worked until they were able to get every arch erected.
After the arches were done, they put in heaters and had lighting installed. They put propane tanks on the side of the building to provide enough heat to keep the vehicle warm.
“I said wow. You know what. We were really able to do this job,” says Gross. “My guys were actually very proud of the work they actually did in putting it up,” says Chief Gross. “If anybody in the area wants to buy one of these buildings and they need help putting it up, I’d be happy to consult them!”
He says this was a learning process for them. Once they moved beyond the first step, it was smooth sailing from there.
“We finally realized that the bundles were different parts of the building. They all went together,” says Chief Gross.
The department has already ordered a new truck to replace the vintage one that is sitting inside of the new Quonset Hut now. The current truck will then go to surplus and the building will then be used for a different purpose. Gross says he will turn the building over to the recreation department so that they can use it for storage.
“I had a double purpose of using the building instead of selling the building,” says Chief Gross. “I can fit two ladder trucks in that building if I wanted. It is so big.”
He plans to take full advantage of the space available.
When he initially started to search for the perfect building, not only did he need something that would accommodate the size, he was also concerned about the heavy snow loads that usually destroy straight wall buildings.
He says recently over 30 inches of snow fell in the area, but none of it collected on the top of the building.
“With the heaters inside and the curve of the building, the snow just fell right off,” says Chief Gross.
Now that this vintage emergency vehicle has a new home, Chief Gross and his fire crew can continue to do what they’ve been doing every day for many years—saving lives.