Unique project for firefighters in need

January 28, 2011 4:16:37 PM PST
We have a look at the side of the fire department you rarely get to see. Houston firefighters reaching out to their fellow colleagues across the country and what they're offering is a helping hand that you can't put a price on.

An old, abandoned fire station will soon undergo a major renovation. It is set to become the country's first home away from home for firefighters who come to Houston for medical treatment.

It may not be much to look at now, but there are big plans for what used to be Houston Fire Station 27.

"It takes heart to be firefighter," said Chief Lorenzo Diaz of the Houston Fire Department.

That kind of heart is the driving force behind a new venture to first revitalize one of the oldest fire stations in the city and then use it to help sick firefighters and their families who come to Houston from around the world for medical treatment.

"We want to be able to say, 'Hey, you know what, we're here as a brother, we're here for you. We want to help you and that's what we are here for,'" said Richard Gomez of the Society of Houston Latino Firefighters.

They hope to house at least three firefighters at a time who will stay here free of charge. Former Houston City Council Member Peter Brown's foundation bought the property from the city a few years ago for the Society of Houston Latino Firefighters. Brown put additional money down for the renovation, and members are now frantically trying to raise the remaining few hundred thousand dollars needed to finish it.

"Fundraisers will be going on throughout the year for many years to come," said Mico Guerra of the Society of Houston Latino Firefighters.

It won't be easy, but they're up for the challenge. They say helping a brother or sister in need is something you can't put a price on.

It will be called the Hamilton Brown House, named after the architect who designed the fire station back in 1940. Firefighters recently raised enough money to pay the property taxes. They hope they'll eventually be able to claim 501c3 tax exempt status.