Firefighters seek contributions

Residents in the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department’s response area will soon receive a mailing asking for contributions to the SLVFD.

The intent of this article is threefold. First, yes, it is really the SLVFD soliciting for donations, not a scam. Second, the SLVFD would like to highlight some of the recent purchases made from donations that help the fire department keep its community safe, and third to reach out and say thank you to the community for its support.

Some of the equipment that contributors have helped the SLVFD purchase recently is listed below. This equipment is expensive. The cost of this equipment exceeds what the SLVFD can purchase with tax dollars alone. Contributions enhance the SLVFD’s ability to serve and protect its community.

Recent purchases

Firefighter “turnout gear” – In order to comply with National Fire Protection Association safety standards, personal protective gear must be replaced when damaged and at a minimum of every 10 years. Another law requires each firefighter to be equipped with a rope bail-out system. Over the course of the last three years, the SLVFD and the village of Saranac Lake have been in the process of replacing this gear with new, compliant gear, equipped with an internal rope bail-out system. The village has contributed approximately half of the total cost of $65,000. The other half has come directly from the volunteers’ budget.

Four handheld radios, designed and placed strategically on engine 141, allow every interior attack team the ability to call for assistance while they are fighting a fire inside a burning building. Fifty percent of the cost of these radios was from a grant provided by the state Department of Environmental Conservation; the other 50 percent was made possible through donations (cost: $2,800).

The spring 2011 flood, Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy and a recent major water line break significantly tested the SLVFD’s ability to pump water out of homes and businesses in a safe manner, without exposing occupants and firefighters to the effects of deadly carbon monoxide gas. The SLVFD would like to once again thank Sturdy Supply in Saranac Lake for loaning them equipment during these emergencies. With their help, the SLVFD has now purchased its own supply of heavy-duty electrical pumps and all of the fittings that are necessary to use them in any situation (cost: $2,000).

Summer of 2012 and spring of 2013 were very dry periods. The SLVFD responded to multiple wildland fires. Many of these fires were away from any accessible road. Contributors recently helped the SLVFD purchase a supply of “forestry” hose and all the fittings and nozzles needed for this specialty hose. Forestry hose is much lighter weight and can be carried through the woods (cost: $4,000).

“Jaws of Life” – Unfortunately, cutting victims out of wrecked cars is a frequent event for us at the SLVFD. Donations have recently helped the SLVFD replace a set of “Jaws” that were more than 20 years old with newer and updated equipment. The SLVFD received a major contribution toward the cost of this equipment in memory of one of its residents. The SLVFD is currently arranging a photo opportunity with this family and will be telling the public all about it in the very near future (cost: $21,000).

The SLVFD has recently added a new, modern thermal-imaging camera. This technology allows firefighters to advance inside a smoke-filled building and determine where the fire is. It also helps the SLVFD locate victims inside a burning building or even in a colder environment, where it can detect body temperatures (Cost: $12,500).

Other purchases include a chimney nozzle, an automatic master stream nozzle, carrying bags for each firefighter to carry an air mask, and lumber and equipment needed to build a training prop for our rope bail-out system (combined cost: approximately $4,000).

The SLVFD is working hard to provide the best trained and equipped fire department possible. It is only through the community’s contributions that it is able to do so. The SLVFD thanks its contributors for their generosity.

Below is the text of the letter you will be receiving:

“Dear Neighbor,

For 132 years the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department has served our communities during many kinds of events and disasters on land, on water, and in homes, working to save lives and preserve your property and quality of life, by all possible means.

“Now it is time to ask you to help us. We look to our Village and Towns for the basic support of the Firehouse and our skilled Fire Drivers. However, we must rely on private funding for much of the equipment and training expenses which give us the versatility to respond to the wide variety of emergencies we face and to do so with safety for ourselves and for the people we are helping.

“For instance, during the last year we have: used a variety of water rescues on our lakes and ponds; used dive equipment and an airboat, in addition to our usual watercraft; responded to half a dozen wildfires in surrounding fields and forests; battled high wind events that have brought down burning electrical poles and equipment; fought several structure fires.

“The people who respond to these emergencies are your neighbors who, 24/7/365, leave the warmth and safety of their home and their own family when the alarm sounds, not asking for or expecting any remuneration for their service to all of us.

“You can support our work with a donation which we will use to replace outmoded equipment, meet new standards, and train our volunteers.

“Thank you for helping and supporting YOUR fire department.

“Very truly yours,

“Brendan Keough, chief, Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department”