Firefighters Association to hold new fundraiser

Published 3:00 am Friday, June 22, 2018

The Pike County Firefighters Association is planning a new fundraiser in an attempt to find much-needed funding that the volunteer departments have been losing.

CJ Stephens of the association said the main source of funding for the departments is the state’s tobacco tax, but that revenue is falling as more people decide to quit smoking or never pick up tobacco.

“With the drop in tobacco sales, we’ve taken a drop in the taxes that we get from that, so our funds are going away because people are quitting using tobacco,” Stephens said. “It’s helping people get healthier, but it’s hurting us in the long-run.”

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Stephens said the volunteer departments must rely on grants and public donations for any other funding.

In order to begin raising more funds from the public that the association of nine volunteer departments serve, Santa Fe Cattle Company is partnering with the association for a fundraiser at the restaurant on Thursday, July 19.

“What we want to do is grow this into an annual thing and have this at the same time every year,” Stephens said.

The association has a full day planned at the restaurant including visits from Smokey the Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog in the daytime for the kids and a musical performance from Goshen local Jay Hughes from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the restaurant will be donating 10 percent of meal purchases to the association when guests present the flyer or card showing they have come in support of the volunteer departments.

“We’re working to try and get some field trips out here too,” Stephens said. “We’re going to have the fire trucks out here for the kids to tour.”

Not only will the fundraiser help to raise much-needed revenue for the departments, Stephens said it will give the firefighters a chance to educate people about what the departments do and how they work.

“That’s another reason we’re having this is we want people to learn about how volunteer fire departments work,” Stephens said. “We’ve been wanting to have this just to help us also to educate the general public about what volunteer firefighters do.”

Stephens said the departments work very similarly to any business with the exception that the firefighters are not paid.

“Like any business, you have insurance, vehicle expenses, power bills, garbage bills, water bills – you have to run it just like if you are running a regular business. Some departments are regulated by the city they’re in and get help from their city halls. But Henderson, Spring Hill, Saco, Hamilton Crossroads – those are some of the departments with no town hall, no city hall; they don’t get any help. They depend on public and tobacco taxes.”

And there can be big expenses for a volunteer department to tackle.

“The motor went out recently on one of our trucks in Henderson and it was $20,000 to get it rebuilt,” Stephens said. “We don’t get any discounts; it’s a struggle sometimes.”

The nine departments that make up the Pike County Firefighters Association are Brundidge, Banks, Goshen, Henderson, Saco, Meeksville, Spring Hill, Hamilton Crossroads, and Pike Fire and Rescue.