Maine firefighters' supper raises funds for ventilation system
Copyright 2006 Bangor Daily News
By KATHERINE CASSIDY
Bangor Daily News (Maine)
After Saturday evening's public supper, the 29 volunteers of the Machias Fire Department are $1,400 closer to their goal of purchasing a $17,000 vehicle exhaust ventilation system.
They cooked and baked all day before setting out a spread from casseroles to cupcakes in the parish hall of Holy Name Church.
More than 50 people mingled with the volunteers and helped support the fire department's fundraising goal.
The Public Safety Building, built in 1982, houses fire engines, ambulances and police cruisers at different times. But without a proper ventilation system, the exhaust leaves walls, computers and even clothes dark and damaged.
A new system could solve the problem, said Fire Chief Joey Dennison, by ventilating the building in about 90 seconds.
"Our volunteers are trying to give back to the town and the taxpayers," Dennison said. "We need this, and we went to the town to ask them if we could raise the money ourselves."
That happened in December. Since then, the department is about $2,500 toward its goal.
Last month, a yard sale brought in $300. Last weekend's supper netted $1,400.
The supper was the first in about 10 years organized by the firefighters. All expenses came out of the volunteers' pockets, and each volunteer contributed a couple of dishes.
The last time the volunteers did significant fundraising was 2003, when they gave the town a thermal imaging camera. Their $11,000 matched a grant that covered the rest of the cost of the camera.
The volunteers also raised more than $20,000 for a Jaws of Life project in the 1990s.
Dennison isn't sure what's next on the list of fundraising events. "We haven't talked about that yet," he said. "That's next month's meeting. We will keep at this until we achieve our goal."
The town's volunteers attend monthly meetings, plus four hours of training a month. They are available for all calls that come in — last year the average number of calls was 15 a month.
There were six calls in January — a mutual aid structure fire and a few chimney fires, according to Dennison.