Mt. Pleasant Borough fire chief: Community contributions critical
By Marilyn Forbes
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant Borough's volunteer fire department is beset with an inflated 2013 budget highlighted by spiking equipment costs, said VFD Chief Gerald Lucia.
The department also has an increased need for manpower.
In addition, relied-upon donations from the surrounding community and money raised through fundraising activities by the department are lacking.
“It's tough,” said Lucia of the stall in donations and participation in fundraisers.
Such money is essential to keeping everything from department vehicles to firefighter gear in top shape for the department's roster of 41 firemen, he said.
“With the economy being the way it is, people sometimes just don't have the money.” For the past several decades, the department has relied heavily on fundraising as a way to make ends meet, purchase additional equipment and complete repairs on any of the department's seven vehicles.
“There is a lot of fundraising that is needed,” Lucia said. “The annual (borough) firemen's fair brings in about one-half of our budget, and the weekly bingo brings in about one-quarter of the budget.”
The budget for the department is approximately $100,000.
The weekly bingo, once a well-attended and staple money-generator for the department, has been on a decline for many months with attendance dwindling, according to VFD secretary Al Maida.
“You can just see how the numbers have gone down,” Maida said. “Our numbers have been going the wrong way for a while now.”
Residents such as Ruth Pologruto still come to the bingo faithfully every week, though.
“I like this bingo, and I have been coming here for years,” Pologruto said. “It's a nice bingo and a good way to support the firemen.”
The annual fair is always a well-attended event, Lucia said. The 2012 installment was close to a banner year for the long-standing tradition, he added.
“This could have been a record year for us, but we had one day of rain,” Lucia said. “We get a lot of support at the fair, which is nice to see.”
Even with the success of the fair, the dwindling number of annual donations has been noticeable.
“It used to be an automatic for people to send in their donations,” Lucia said. “It was the families who had lived here, year after year after year, who would just mail in their contributions because they understood that we were here to help the community. Now, with so many new people, we just don't see that.”
The rise in the price of firefighter equipment continually challenges the department, too.
“People don't realize what it takes to suit up a fireman,” Lucia said. “When you are putting everything together for a new fireman — which includes boots, pants, a coat, a helmet, gloves and a Nomex hood — you are looking in the neighborhood of $2,200, and that price has been going up about $200 every year.”
Ideally, Lucia said, a new set of equipment for a fireman is expected to last 10 years. For an average active fireman, however, that number can be much lower.
“With the younger active guys who are fighting fires and crawling around, you might get only a few years out of a set of equipment,” Lucia said.
The department is allotted about $10,000 each year from the state, but that money must be used for equipment, and it must be earmarked in each year's spending plan.
“That is grant money, so what you apply for (is what) you have to buy,” Lucia said.
In addition to general operating expenses and equipment purchases, the annual budget also included events sponsored by the department.
“We sponsor the Halloween parade, the Easter egg hunt and the firemen's banquet every year,” Lucia said.
Lucia said he's hoping the community will step forward by attending fundraising events or donating directly to the department.
“It's tough,” Lucia said. “Our bingo used to be heavily attended and we used to collect about $40,000 a year with our donation letter, but the economy has been bad and people just don't have the money.
“We just hope that the community thinks of us when they do make a donation or a contribution. We are here for everyone — for every person in this community.”
Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mt. Pleasant girl overcomes effects of brain surgery
- Mt. Pleasant sophomore Pimental continues excelling in stage’s spotlight
- Mt. Pleasant girl overcomes effects of brain surgery