It was 40 years ago that the idea of a Brookville Firemens Club was born and today that club is going strong and making a difference in the community.
The Brookville Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) closed in 1976 and the Brookville Volunteer Fire Department purchased the VFW’s liquor license for $1.
The firefighters still had to find a building before they could establish a club. Bob McGill was instrumental in finding the building at 202 E. Main St. While the club would eventually be in the front of the building, a garage was rented out in the back. In March of 1978 the club opened and has thrived in that same location.
While the Brookville VFD ran the club in the beginning, there was a split in the early 1980s and two organizations were formed – the Brookville Volunteer Fire Department and the Brookville Volunteer Fire Co. The Brookville VFD kept the original charter and runs the club. The Brookville VFC got a new charter and is the fire company that responds to fires, accidents, etc. The fire company, however, is still affiliated with the VFD, according to Ron Pearsall. Current trustees are Pearsall, president; Mike Allgeier, vice president; Ryan Pearsall, secretary; Dick Beck, treasurer; and Edgar McCandless, director.
Besides the five trustees there are also 11 employees.
In 1978 there were 200 members but today that number has grown to more than 2,000. There are active members and social members. The active members are the firefighters. Social members range from local residents to out of state residents who have camps in the area. There are 49 new members this month so far and there were 80 the previous month.
Anyone applying for a social membership must be sponsored by a member in good standing. Then the trustees vote on whether to accept a member or not. They meet on the first Sunday of the month. There are five trustees and four of them are Brookville VFC members.
There have been changes throughout the years beginning with the remodeling of the club’s main area. Later would come the changing of the garage into a banquet room that sits 123 people. To look at the room today, one wouldn’t know it had once been a garage in a former life. Another project was the extended parking area next to the club. There’s been a remodel of the kitchen and a new roof as well.
As the club has grown so has its impact on the community. Through the money raised via membership, dinners and gambling, the club has been able to aid the fire company in purchasing updated firetrucks. In 2007 it donated $87,000 to the fire company towards its firetruck fund. Since that time it has donated $249,000 for a rescue unit and now $400,000 towards the new ladder truck. Once a need is known, the club is alerted a few years ahead and begins raising money.
The fire company, however, is not the only way in which the club is making a difference. In the last five years it has started taking requests from local organizations and has given thousands of dollars. Organizations such as Brookville Food Pantry, Brookville YMCA, Jefferson County Care for Kids, the Rebecca Arthurs Memorial Library, and many more. With the $54,353 that was given to the Brookville VFC, the club donated more than $77,500 in 2017. The club, Ron Pearsall says, is there to support the fire company but also to support the community.
One of the ways the club raises the money is with its dinners. Each day has a theme – Monday, pizza and beer; Tuesday, tacos; Wednesday, wings; Thursday, burgers; Friday, fish; Sunday mornings there is breakfast and for the first Sunday of the month from fall to spring, the dinner theme is steak night. Then there are two special events each year.
To mark the 40th anniversary, the club is holding a pig roast on March 10 at 6 p.m. for its members. This is a free meal for all its members. Bad Hat Daddy Oooos will be performing from 8-11 p.m. for members and guests. The club holds this members appreciation day in March each year and a customer appreciation day in August.