Fund drive begins by East Penn Fire Co.
Lisa PRice/Special to the Times News Melissa Boerner is in the junior firefighter program in the East Penn Volunteer Fire Department.
In the world of volunteer fire companies, it takes four hours of fundraising efforts to cover the cost of running a fire truck for one hour.
As do other such companies, the East Penn Township Volunteer Fire Company is seeking help from the community, launching a fund drive seeking monies to purchase equipment, operate the fire company and also build a pole building to house their equipment.
The 50-foot by 80-foot pole building will be constructed adjacent to the township building, where all the fire company's trucks and gear are crammed into a three-bay garage.
The building's cost is estimated at between $40,000 and $50,000. Fire Chief Cory Smith, who is also a township supervisor, said that the state has been generous with grants for East Penn.
"We got a grant for $25,000 from the Department of Community and Economic Development, which can be used to help purchase needed equipment or go toward the cost of the pole building," Smith said. "To be effective, we need more and more equipment."
The department has six fire trucks, support vehicles for gear, brush fire fighting equipment, a UTV to assist in fighting brush fires and in search and rescue, and turn-out gear for the volunteers. Smith said that a full suit of turnout gear, including breathing apparatus and hand tools, costs around $9,000.
The department also needs more volunteers, as young as 14-18 years old for the existing youth program. Currently, there are four teens in the program. Melissa Boerner, 14, said she really likes being involved with the fire department.
"I've really learned a lot and it's something my whole family is involved in," she said. "I think when you live in a community you should find something to do to help the community, be a part of it."
Lt. Harvey Lenhart said that the junior program helps youngsters focus.
"We find that it helps them do better in school," Lenhart said. "It builds their confidence."
In addition to the donation request recently mailed to local households, the East Penn Volunteer Fire Department will be raising money by selling tacos Sept. 6, 7 and 8 at the Palmerton Festival. Volunteers will also have a "boot drive" at the intersection of Route 895 and Blue Mountain Road over Labor Day weekend.