Friends group effort helps public grasp firefighters’ role
ANCRAM—The citizen’s group, Friends of the Firehouse, seeking to raise $57,000 to pay for upgrades to the existing firehouse and the new addition, is well on its way to meeting its June 1 deadline.
After residents voted to approve an $895,000 bond to finance the 7,200-square-foot expansion project, the Friends group formed to see whether they could raise some extra money to spruce up the place a bit with light-tan siding and glass-paneled doors and at the same time provide the fire company with a fire truck water refill system.
The Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners liked the idea. So the friends have been soliciting donations via letter, email, word-of-mouth and have even taken their fundraising presentation on the road to gatherings in private homes where potential donors come to listen.
Group spokesperson Jennifer Berne told The Columbia Paper this week that the group has raised about $50,000 of the money needed. People have made donations at whatever level they can afford and the project has brought the whole community together.
In her presentation, Ms. Berne talks about aesthetics, saying that the way a place looks makes an impression on passersby and residents. She also talks about the importance of the fire company and its contribution to the quality of life in Ancram. Fire Chief David Boice also speaks at the fundraising gatherings, discussing the diversity of fire company members, who range in age from 16 to 87; the large number of women involved in all facets of the organization and the company’s quick response to all types of emergencies. He talks about how firefighters have raised money for needed equipment in the past and how they will install floor-covering in the current building project for a cost savings of $90,000.
When he offers to answer questions, he is often surprised to hear from people who do not understand how a volunteer fire company works and that volunteer firefighters do what they do for no pay because they think it’s a good thing to do for the community and they make themselves available to do it all day, every day. “People ask, when does the next crew come on? I tell them there is no next crew,” said the chief.
The fundraising effort has been “an amazing way of bringing the town together for the town-wide goal of showing appreciation for the fire company. Plus the building is something we will all see and live with for the rest of our lives. It is the center of the town,” Ms. Berne noted.
Checks may be made out to AFC Friends of the Firehouse and mailed to: Friends of the Firehouse, P.O. Box 104, Ancram 12502. The deadline for raising this money is June 1. That’s when materials need to be ordered and paid for. A donation receipt for tax deduction purposes will be mailed after June 1.
Chief Boice said contractors should be pouring the addition foundation this week and the building is expected to be complete and ready for use in September.
To contact Diane Valden email .