A fireman with the Easton Volunteer Fire Department (EVFD) for 54 years, Mike Newnam of Easton, knows what it takes to keep a volunteer fire department running. Equipping one fireman today costs about $8,000 and purchasing a new ladder truck is estimated to cost $1.2 million in 2013, when the EVFD’s ladder truck will need replacing. Newnam and his wife Susan recently set up a fund through the Mid-Shore Community Foundation to help the EVFD maintain its services to residents of Eastonand its surrounding areas.
The EVFD, like many volunteer fire departments, must raise one third of its budget each year from fundraising. This includes such fundraising activities as bull roasts, dances, and weekly bingo. According to Tim Knotts, EVFD President, “It’s unrealistic to expect a fireman to complete the initial 120 hours of education required for the volunteer job, meet annual training and educational requirements, make a commitment every day on volunteer calls, and then be involved in fund raising activities.” He adds, “Fundraising just adds to the time they are already away from their families and has kept some prospective members from joining because of the added commitment.”
Newnam, who was once president and a trustee of the EVFD, understands the sacrifices each fireman makes, recalling leaving his honeymoon for a fire call. He adds, “Our firemen respond to between 900 and 1000 fires/rescues a year – this is an average of three calls a day. We want the community to realize that this fund has to grow in order to continue this level of service. If we don’t raise the necessary financial resources and sustain the current volunteer base, then local government and the taxpayers could be bearing the entire financial burden of operating a paid fire department.”
Easton Volunteer Fire Department, which has been in business over 200 years, has one of the largest fire departments in the State of Maryland. Among the 65 active members of the EVFD, there are a number of career firefighters who also volunteer with the department.
Knotts comments, “We are very grateful for this fund. Our community has doubled in size and this fund will help us maintain the quality department many have come to expect. People probably don’t realize that the quality of our fire department has an impact on the insurance rates they pay. We want to maintain this insurance rating.”
Stuart Bounds, president of Mid-Shore Community Foundation, noted, “Thanks to the generosity of the Newnam’s and hopefully to future gifts to this fund, the Foundation will be able to provide perpetual support to the Easton Volunteer Fire Department. This will be a permanent fund at the Foundations that members of the community can donate to through annual giving, bequests, and memorial donations.”
To donate to the Easton Volunteer Fire Department Fund, contact Mid-Shore Community Foundation at 410-820-8175 or visit www.mscf.org to make an online donation.