By Jacob Mahaffey
The needs of a fire department are usually of the daily variety. Things break and just plain wear out.
To take care of the needs of the department, Sugarcreek Fire and Rescue has coordinated a raffle for a 2019 EZ Go Golf Cart. They have several goals in mind for the proceeds of the sale that involve the purchase of items to care for uniforms and to equip the ambulance.
The first piece of equipment they are looking to buy is a new washer and dryer for their gear. This set is not a typical pair you can pick up at Weaver Appliance or Lowes.
“Although our gear is designed to keep us safe, it can also be our worst enemy,” John Meek, Assistant Fire Chief said. “When our gear is dirty, it can actually expose us to cancer-causing chemicals.”
That exposure is due to the elements that firefighters are exposed to while fighting a fire. “Let’s take your normal house fire,” Captain Cody Shelter explained, “every material in the building lets off chemicals as it burns. These chemicals get into the gear and then onto the firefighter’s skin.”
When the skin is exposed to high heat it can absorb more. In fact, for every five degree increase in temperature, the skins absorbency increases by 400 percent. This accounts for some staggering statistics within the fire service. Firefighters have a nine percent increase in cancer diagnosis. Firefighters have a 14 percent increase in cancer deaths over the general public. In fact, 2/3 of all firefighters will have a cancer diagnosis at some point in their career.
“It is such an epidemic that cancer accounted for 70 percent of Line of Duty Deaths in the fire service in 2016,” Meek solemnly said.
This is why it is important for firefighters to wash their gear routinely. “The equipment has to be specially designed to handle the load of a firefighter gear,” Shelter said. “Our turnout gear is pretty heavy when it is dry, that weight increases significantly when it is wet.”
Another equipment purchase they would like to make is battery operated rescue tools for car accidents. “When a driver is trapped in a car, time is of the essence,” Shelter said. “Any delay in time could be the difference in survival.”
These tools would be kept in the ambulance. “Our ambulance is the first truck out of the door on a car accident, staffed by our on-duty crew,” Meek added. “Right now, our rescue tools are kept on our engine, which is the next truck to leave. That could be another two to three minutes, sometimes more.”
With the new tools on the ambulance, those cross-trained firefighters can begin to extricate the trapped person as soon as they arrive on the scene.
Tickets for the raffle can be purchased at the fire station any weekday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. They can also be bought from any member of the department. Tickets are one ticket for $10 or a book of six for $50.
Perhaps the best thing about the raffle is that if the winner doesn’t have a need for a golf cart, they can take home cash. “If the winner doesn’t want the golf cart, there is also the option of $2,000,” Shelter said.
There will also be prizes awarded to a second place ticket of $500, and a third place prize of $250. The drawing will be held at a fundraiser auction at the fire station on January 19. “We are also looking for local businesses to donate items for our auction,” said Meek.
If you have any questions or would like to donate you can call the station at 330-852-4316. The fire station is located at 152 North Broadway in Sugarcreek.