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Bald Eagle Fire Company continues fund raising efforts

The Bald Eagle Fire Company began Operation Community Rescue last December, sending letters to area businesses to help raise money for a new truck.
The need for a new truck came when Pennsylvania state laws changed, requiring that all firefighters ride inside an enclosement, prohibiting anyone from riding on the back of the trucks.
“It’s really a safety issue,” explained Scott Illig, Bald Eagle Fire Chief.
The truck the fire company is using right now is 20 years old and can only carry a driver and one passenger in the cab. The company has had to use both fire trucks along with the brush truck and quick responder vehicle just to get enough people and equipment to a scene. Plus, when I-99 opens up the state will have more restrictions on the vehicles in order to use the interstate to respond to emergencies.
The company needs to raise $80,000 for a deposit, so that an order can be placed. The total cost of the truck will be $400,000. That seems like a steep price but Paul Morrison explained that is for a truck with the minimum requirements, just to be considered a fire rescue truck. It’s nothing fancy.
Recently, volunteers gathered at Snappy’s, across from the firehall, to hold a Mother’s Day flower sale fundraiser.
Illig said the company really would like to thank everybody who helped to make the Mother’s Day flower sale a success. Close to $5,000 was raised from the flower sale and ice sales. The fire department has raised approximately $18,000 altogether and plan to continue with fundraisers all through summer. The company is planning summer fundraisers including car washes and an ongoing ice sale.
Illig said there is ice available all summer in front of the firehall, 24 hours a day. The cost is $1 per 10 pound bag.
Also, coming in July, the company will host a tool show. For fans of the Discovery Channel’s American Chopper, the Snap-on bike, build by Orange County Chopper, will be on display for visitors during the event.
“We’re still hoping for support from local businesses,” said Illig.
He said the company doesn’t want to go out and buy a truck before it has the funds.
“We don’t want to put all our money into a new truck and then have nothing left, trying to survive month to month,” he explained.
He said they are getting support from the municipalities and every little bit helps.
“We want to be able to afford this new truck, we want to be ready,” said Illig.
Previously, Morrison explained that come October, the current truck will no longer be certified as a Class A pumper because the pump doesn’t meet standards for this area. It doesn’t pump as much water as is required.
The truck could be sent away to have everything rebuilt. Technically, the company can continue using the truck, however the insurance company will no longer recognize the fire company as having a Class A pumper. Either way, this still won’t satisfy the problem of not being able to carry more than two firefighters to a scene.
“If we don’t upgrade or get another truck, the people in the area can expect fire insurance to double or even triple what it costs now,” said Morrison. “We are really hoping that people have been meaning to make a donation and just haven’t gotten to it.”
The fire company was started in 1972 by Pete Spanelli in mid September, with an average of 12 people at the first meetings.
In May, 1980 the company moved to its current location.
Right now there are 14 active firemen who have been trained, been to school, can fight fires, go into a burning building for rescue and respond to accidents.
“We also have eight quick responders and a certified quick responders vehicles for any type of medical emergency in our area. We have people that are state trained and certified to take care of whatever the needs are,” said Morrison.
Last year the company received 168 calls and according to Morrison, that number seems to be increasing each year.
“It would be a shame, for all the time and energy and hours spent training, then to lose it all.,” said Morrison. “People don’t realize how important our service is until they have a fire or accident.
“We respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many get up in the middle of the night then have to get up and go to work in the morning.
“Some of these guys own their own businesses. They may be out a whole day and not have made a penny.
According to Morrison, people don’t realize the fire hall really belongs to the community.
“We’re just the caretakers that keep it open,” he explained. “People feel the township gives us money to keep it open but they don’t realize that each year we get about enough money from the supervisors to pay the bills for a month-and-a-half.”
“We’re hoping that we’re going to get the support, get a better response from the community.”
“We have got a couple small grants but are really depending on the community to step up. If everyone would just give something it would all add up. If you feel you can only give $10 it’s still going to help.”
The company is also accepting pledges from the community. For example, an individual can pledge to give $1,000. However, they don’t have to pay the whole amount up front, they can pay it over a period of time.
“At least if we have the money pledged we can see how much we have,” said Morrison.
The other truck owned by the company is 10 years old. It contains only a partially enclosed space to carry passengers but the company will still be able to take it out on the road for the time being.