Elks Lodge begins fund raising for upgrades needed to stay open
WEST FARMINGTON - The state's Fire Marshal's Office has given the Farmington Elks Lodge members one year to get the 42-year-old lodge (corrected) at 120 School Street up to fire safety code standards in order to continue to stay open.
Besides Elks meetings, weddings and other receptions, many area charitable fund-raising events are held at the well-utilized two-story building. The estimate to get everything fixed in order to pass the fire marshal's inspection by July 2, 2013 totals $20,000, said Barbara Tripp, manager of the Farmington Elks Lodge No. 2430.
"That's a lot of money for us," she said, adding the lodge simply does not currently have the money for the upgrades required.
Required is a new fire alarm system installed throughout the building, which is expected to cost $6,000. The balance, an estimated $14,000, is needed to bring the downstairs kitchen into compliance with fire safety code regulations.
"Public safety is the number one concern and the kitchen is not in compliance," Tripp said. A new industrial-size stove hood and exhaust system needs to be replaced. Paneling throughout the kitchen area needs to be taken down and replaced with fire resistant sheet metal wall siding. A grill mounted on a wooden cabinet needs to be replaced with a metal cabinet. Grease from the grill can spatter onto the wood cabinet causing a fire hazard, Tripp said.
In addition, the hand-held fire extinguishers in the kitchen need to be much bigger than the current models available.
"We have until July 2 to get everything done and reinspected for permitting," she said.
The financial difficulty is that the lodge has already taken out a loan for a new air conditioning system and parking lot upgrades.
Instead of taking out another loan for the fix up, lodge members will be holding a series of fund-raising events to help pay to bring the building up to code. The first major benefit is set for Saturday, Aug. 18 when a horseshoe tournament, motorcycle show and pig roast will be held at the lodge.
Same-day registration for the horseshoe tournament (with 75 percent cash pay back) starts at 10 a.m. The bike show starts at 4 p.m. with prizes for people's choice, vintage and best of show. The pig roast will be served at 5 p.m.
In addition, the Friday open kitchen nights will continue unless other events are scheduled for the same time. The public is invited, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the building fund. Various dinner items are served up from 4 to 7:30 p.m. It's best to ask a lodge member or call 778-6761to find out which Fridays the kitchen is open.
Tripp said donations are always appreciated. "We can only ask of our members for so much," she said. For more information, call the lodge at 778-6761.