Area fire departments are being careful with what money they have as many have had to cancel major fundraisers in the recent months of COVID-19 restrictions.
This is particularly true for the companies in some smaller communities that rely on events as the biggest fundraisers during a year. The Big Run and Summerville Volunteer Fire Departments are two that have experienced many cancellations in recent months.
The Big Run VFD recently finished construction of the new event center and fire hall. The center was meant to be a new source of rental income for the department. Instead it has sat empty for months, and the members haven’t been able to enjoy the new hall.
“We just built a brand new facility and fire hall. We lost all our rentals for the last three months. On top of that, we don’t even have income from rentals coming in,” Big Run Chief Scott Bowers said.
Similarly, the Summerville VFD had to cancel its largest fundraiser of the year, the farm toy show set to take place in April. Summerville VFD Secretary Linda Snyder said this has reduced the department’s income significantly, but it is still receiving fund drive donations.
“We still have to pay our bills and put gas in the trucks, and that doesn’t stop just because we don’t have money” Snyder said.
Summerville is one of the few departments in the area that still stages weekly bingo. Snyder said the department is eager to open back up for bingo, as there are about 40 to 50 dedicated players.
The Brockway Volunteer Fire Department is slightly better off, being in a more highly populated area. Deputy Chief Devin Trentini said the only thing the department has canceled so far was monthly doughnut sales. His department is more worried about long-term financial struggles.
“If there’s some long-standing impact on the people in this area, then it might have a bigger impact on the fire department,” Trentini said.
Similar to Summerville, Brockway is still receiving individual donations from the community.
“We’re okay where we’re at right now, but it’s going to be difficult to bounce back from that,” Bowers said.