Fairlawn Fire Dept. mailing out fundraising appeal

Residents and businesses in the Fairlawn area take note: the letter you’re going to receive in your mail seeking support for the Fairlawn Volunteer Fire Department is NOT a scam.

It represents the department’s largest fundraising effort and also serves as a newsletter to update recipients on the work of the fire department, its needs and its goals.

The letter goes out every couple of years or so to over 1,500 households and businesses served by the Fairlawn department. The last such letter appeal occurred in 2016.

According to Freddy Smith, a volunteer fire fighter with the department for over 40 years and only its second treasurer, the department has always received and appreciated the support it has gained from the growing Fairlawn community.

While the community around them has grown, the costs facing the Fairlawn department continue to grow as well.  The 2016 fundraising letter noted it costs some $2,500 to totally outfit a fire fighter with the protective gear they need to fight fires and to respond to emergency calls such as traffic accidents and more.

Two years later those costs haven’t gone down.

Plus, there is the annual costs of maintaining and upgrading necessary equipment.

According to this year’s newsletter, 2018 marks the 70th year for the department, and 30 years of being housed in their current fire station on Peppers Ferry Boulevard.

“Through our 70 years of existence, our community has been blessed by the dedication and commitment of friends and neighbors that have become volunteer fire fighters, starting with our founding members, to the present day,” the letter states. “It was, and is, these individuals, as well as the continued community support over the years that have helped the Fairlawn Volunteer Fire Department to grow and become one of the finest in the area.”

This year’s newsletter speaks of several things the department has on its agenda that need to be done, and which will cost money to complete.

“We have been replacing pagers, fire supply hose, a smoke ejector and various pieces of equipment because they have become outdated or have just worn out,” the letter states.

Because of the cancer-causing risks fire fighters experience, the department has been purchasing additional protective fire gear such as gloves, hoods, boots and more that volunteers can use while their regular equipment is being cleaned.

“For this reason, as well as the cost of continual upgrading and maintenance of existing equipment, responding to an increasing number of calls and normal everyday operations, we are asking for your support again.”

Along with the appeal for support, the department is including in its mailing a brochure, “Fire Safety Begins At Home.”

“With the increased use of security systems in private homes, we have noticed that many of our calls are caused by unattended cooking that burns and activates the security system,” the letter states.

Smith related that often times, fire fighters respond to the fire house on such calls and start to leave in fire trucks, only to be quickly recalled. Fire fighters are rarely waiting at the fire house for a call to come in. Rather, they are elsewhere – at work or on personal business – and must drop what they are doing to respond to emergency calls.

“Fire safety is one of the most important aspects of the fire department. Our main concern is that you are fire safe. For this reason, we have added the brochure to this year’s newsletter,” Smith said. “We encourage you to read and share the content with your family and practice fire safety every day.”

As always, Smith stressed every penny of the money raised by the letter campaign goes toward the operation of the fire department.  All its members are volunteer and there are no paid positions at the Fairlawn department.

“A volunteer in this department in this community is a neighbor and citizens just like everyone else,” said Smith.

Those individuals or businesses residing in the service area of the Fairlawn Volunteer Fire Department who somehow do not receive a letter, but who would like to donate to support the department may do so by sending their donation to: Fairlawn Volunteer Fire Department, 7358 Peppers Ferry Boulevard, Fairlawn, VA 24141.

By Mike Williams, The Patriot