Buffs Have Many Ways Of Assisting Fire Service
As we’ve said before, support from a well-organized, financially sound fire buff club can go far beyond food service on the fireground. Reports of this continue to come in.
For example, we’ve mentioned how buffs have established fire service museums. Some are major tourist attractions. Others may be little known except to other buffs. But here’s one that will perhaps be unique—the Indianapolis Fire Buffs have agreed to set up and maintain a “fire fighters’ gallery” in the new $7 million Children’s Museum now being built in that city. About 6000 square feet of space will be available, enough to show off apparatus of which the fire buffs own several pieces dating back more than half a century.
Clubs also help purchase new equipment for use today. In 1974, the 321 Association of Grand Rapids, Mich., began raising money on its own to completely equip the Grand Rapids Fire Department’s first mobile emergency medical unit.
One of the Milwaukee Fire Bell Club’s first acts over 25 years ago was to collect funds to buy the Milwaukee Fire Department’s first and only ambulance, still a responding unit on all second alarms in that city. Since then, the club has donated a great deal of Fire Prevention Week display or handout material, plus equipment for the department’s training academy. Latest gift (December 1974) was a set of 30 turnout coats for recruits to wear during their training at the school, before they get their own gear. The coats will stay at the academy for use by succeeding classes for years to come. Some have already seen fire action, when recruits were put to work at two major multiple alarms the same day, January 28.
Financial help takes many forms. In Baltimore, the Box 414 Association bought the trophies and T-shirts awarded youthful participants in a recreation center basketball program sponsored by the fire department.
During its 36 years of service, the Fire Bell Club of New York has made hundreds of cash donations to widows and families of fire fighters killed in line of duty.
Clubs may sponsor writing or publication of a history of their local fire service. Such a book, if well-done, can do much to arouse citizen interest in the fire department, often bring home to residents in entertaining fashion the problems their fire fighters may face. In 1972, the Fire Associates of Santa Clara Valley (Calif.) succeeded after long effort in finding a publisher for the 110-year history of the San Jose Fire Department. Now, a brand-new Midwest group the Extra Alarm Association of the Twin Cities—has begun a book titled “100 Years With the Minneapolis Fire Department,” to be available for the 1979 department centennial.
Clearly, if there is anything a fire department could use some help with, directly or indirectly, just . . . call on the buffs! □ □