The Upper Clearwater Volunteer Fire Brigade held a barbecue to celebrate funds raised and a raffle Monday afternoon.
In the weeks leading up to the little event, members of the brigade sold tickets for $5 to enter a raffle for a meat smoker (congratulations Caleb Hanaghan!), with all funds raised from the tickets going towards their operating costs, like fuel for the trucks and insurance. The group sold 950 tickets total, adding up to $4,750.
Deputy Chief Mike Ward said while the brigade is able to, and does, apply for grants, the money will go towards personal protective equipment, or PPE, for the team or new equipment and can’t be used for operating costs. In addition, there are other grants that require the recipient top match the funds they will withdraw — something tough to do as a volunteer and non-profit group.
Therefore, the brigrade needs to fundraise, but they do get some help from the community in other forms as well.
Ursula and Fritz Schaer, who live on very scenic property up Clearwater Valley Road, donate their space to the brigade.
“They have been more than generous, really instrumental in our brigade being able to exist,” said Ward. “It gives us a place to park our vehicles, it gives us a place to meet, and we pay rent, and in exchange for paying rent, they donate it back to our brigade.”
The Upper Clearwater Volunteer Fire Brigade was started in 2017 when a group of Upper Clearwater residents decided to form a fire suppression crew due to the increasingly dangerous wildfire seasons, coupled with the fact there’s only one road in and out of the area.
The volunteers of the Volunteer Fire Brigade have been receiving training and some more training will be announced to finish up the year. This training has allowed the crew to operate and put up similar numbers and time frames as other departments, such those part of Pinantan Lake Fire, said Fire Boss Steve Murray. Some of that training was put on by Blackpool Fire Chief Mike Savage.
He added without the fire brigade and the volunteers up the hills, it would take a long time to supress a fire, should one happen in an area such as Upper Clearwater.
It can take up to four hours for forestry to arrive, and that is if they happen to be stationed in the area. The difference between having trained bodies in the area and waiting for some to arrive can be equated to a few hectares. Savage agreed, and added that while he would send a truck up to assist, having the fire crew at the top of the hill is a huge factor in keeping the fire from running down the mountain into town.
“It takes a community to save a community,” he said.