The Ellis County Emergency Services District 6 Volunteer Fire Department relocated to Mushroom Road about one year ago. When the station opened its new doors, firefighter Joshua Lascano had one request — a flagpole.
Under the leadership of Jake Koonce and the efforts of Boy Scout Troop 232, a brand-new flagpole stands adorned with an American flag now stands outside of the station.
The significance of the project meant everything to the firefighters as the several have served in the military.
“There are a few veteran firefighters that work here, and they were asking for a flag pole but never got it until they asked me to do the job,” Koonce disclosed.
To Lascano, a U.S. Marine veteran, the flag represents more than a piece of fabric on a pole but instead, “It’s what we strive to fight for in any job that we take, and we don’t take for granted the meaning behind the flag. We take it to heart. And having a flag displayed and having to fly the American flag means a great deal to us at the fire department as well as the community.”
The 16-year-old scout spearheaded the flagpole project to advance as an Eagle Scout. When conducting the Eagle Scout entrance project, the person advancing does not perform the task but instead leads a group of his troop to complete it instead of working on it themselves.
Koonce shared that through the project, he and the troop established a “very strong relationship with the fire station.” About 19 members of his troop assisted with the job and met every firefighter stationed there.
Even though the scouts did the majority of the work, the firefighters assisted here and there. They also parked the fire truck in sight to remind the scouts of why they are doing this.
Koonce expressed his respect for the job and stressed the importance saying, “Helping out the community and making people proud and the veterans too.”
Koonce's troop lugged 60-pound bags of cement and erected the pole levelly. The most substantial obstacle was getting the water to shut off after mixing it with the cement, and they accidentally did not grab enough cement at first and had to go back during the middle of the project.
With a combined 154 hours of work under their belt, the pole was installed May 16 and officially dedicated to the fire station. The troop also offered a rock with a message inscribed to recognize present, past and future firefighters.
The ball on top of the flag, the finial ball, is said to have a razor blade inside to use to cut the stars and stripes off of the flag and a match to burn the remains in case of attack — it also has a bullet to defend the base.
For the Life Waxahachie High School student, he assured his leadership skills were put to the test, especially when it came to digging the 38-inch-by-38-inch hole. The troop used shovels, a rock buster, and even their hands.
“I learned to get along with other people and with newer scouts who just joined,” Koonce shared. “We let the concrete dry and when we came back, and one of the newest scouts came, and I was really happy about that.”
When looking back on the project and the individuals it impacts, Koonce relayed, “I’m very happy for the veterans and the people who helped.”
The flag has waved in front of the station for two weeks, and the firefighters are appreciative.
“They’ve got a future ahead of them that’s for sure,” Lascano elaborated. “Just being here and taking charge and doing what they had to do, definitely have a future in whatever route they decide to take in life. Work ethic is hard to find these days, but it was not a problem when the Boy Scouts were here.”
Konce thanked Woodmen Life for sponsoring the project as well as Troop 232 in Waxahachie, The Home Depot, ESD6 and ESD6 Fire Chief Jake Escamilla.
Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450