Roof at Greenwich Fire Hall collapses due to heavy snow

Jennifer Vardy Little
Published on February 19, 2015

Firefighters shovel off the roof of the Greenwich Fire Hall Feb. 19. About half the roof of the hall collapsed due to the weight of the snow.

©Jennifer Vardy Little

GREENWICH - It’s the kind of message no firefighter expects to get: there’s an emergency at their own fire hall.

That’s just what Greenwich firefighters heard Feb. 19 when the call came out over the scanner that the roof had collapsed at the hall.

Fire Chief Dave Miller was showing the hall to a couple planning a wedding in October around 7 p.m. when he glanced up at the ceiling.

“I noticed the lights just didn’t look right,” Miller said.

That’s when he noticed a fine crack in the ceiling.

“We’d just gotten it painted in December – I knew that shouldn’t be there,” he said.

Miller started investigating and found that the roof over half of the hall had collapsed. Twelve roof trusses had snapped.

“It was kind of lucky I was here,” Miller said. “If I wasn’t, no one would’ve been here until Sunday when we have bingo. All this happened since we were here on Tuesday, and if I hadn’t come tonight and caught it early, the plates would’ve broke right off completely.”

The damaged area spans about half of the top of the hall.

“It’s very depressing to see it like this,” he said. “We just did all new flooring, all new paint, all new tables – and to walk in and see that.”

With the help of firefighters from Kentville and Port Williams, the Greenwich firefighters began shovelling off the roof. Along the front of the roof of the hall, the snow was about 24 inches deep, but in the back, it was five or six feet deep in spots.

“There’s a lot of snow up there,” Miller said. “Tuesday was nice and warm, it was moist today and there was freezing rain this morning. It made the snow that much heavier. The weight was too much.”

About 40 firefighters pitched in to shovel off the roof, while a firefighter who has a plow pushed the snow to the side. Kings County regional emergency measures officer Brian Desloges was also on scene Feb. 19 and offered any support the county could provide.

Repairs are expected to start Feb. 20.

“We’ll jack it up, cut some plywood, reinforce the gussets and the trusses. It’ll be a day, day and a half’s work, unless we get up there and find something else,” said firefighter Brian Morrison, who is also a carpenter on the team that will carry out the repairs.

The experience has prompted Miller to remind area residents to make sure their roof is cleared of snow, especially before the weather turns milder on the weekend.

“It’s important to check your roof, very important,” he said.

The hall, which was built about 30 years ago, is insured, Miller said.

And, he added, the couple did go ahead to book it as a wedding venue this fall.