The Intelligencer, Doylestown, Pa.
RICHLANDTOWN, Pa. — In preparing to head out on a call, volunteer firefighters with Richlandtown Fire Co. had grown accustomed to gearing up in a shared space consisting of rickety wire shelving.
Gear would jumble together. It was common for firefighters to mistakenly grab each others' gloves.
It was a setup that members say lacked efficiency and, at times, negatively affected morale.
Junior Firefighter Raymond Slifer saw the problems firsthand.
So last year, when the longtime scout began thinking about his upcoming Eagle Scout project, it didn't take long for him to decide.
His efforts were unveiled during a recent Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony at the fire station.
The 16-year-old stood proudly in front of 36 new gear lockers he designed and built, complete with nameplates, which finally provided firefighters with much-needed designated space.
"It feels so rewarding to be able to give back to my fire company like this," said Slifer, a student at Quakertown Community High School and Upper Bucks County Technical School, during an interview. "These lockers give them their own little personal space."
Slifer says he plans to train to become a full-fledged member when he turns 18 and hopes the new gear rack setup will give the station a feeling of comfort and organization, and perhaps inspire new members to join.
Eagles Scout projects must be funded without the help of a scout's family, so Slifer says he was fortunate to have made contact with Artisan Display Inc., of Red Hill, as he began to plan out his vision.
The company reviewed his blueprints, donated materials and equipment and, alongside Raymond, his friends and family, helped install the new lockers.
His parents both volunteer as members of the company's fire police.
The teen's father, J.R. Slifer, is a former firefighter who now serves as the vice president of the company and also as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 87, to which his son belongs.
Reached by phone this week, his mother, Rachel Slifer, a fire police lieutenant, called the entire experience surreal.
"It was just a huge undertaking," she said. "To see everything come together and all of Raymond's hard work and the support form the fire company and the community has been amazing."
©2019 The Intelligencer, Doylestown, Pa.