• Fundraiser dinner/auction 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Elks Club
By Tribune staff
Now celebrating its 60th year anniversary, Homer has 35 volunteers in the Homer Volunteer Fire Department who regularly respond in emergency situations. An upcoming fundraiser gives the community a good way to thank them for their services.
The volunteers receive training and certifications at public expense, but not much else. A Members’ Association supports volunteers in their service through fitness programs, expense reimbursement and team-building events.
“We at the MA feel these programs are paramount to the morale, well-being and fulfillment of our volunteers,” said Tim Blackmon, who is on the board of directors.
To raise funds, the Homer Volunteer Fire Dept. is having a Fundraiser Dinner Auction on 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Elks Club, with the proceeds to benefit the fire department Members’ Association. Additional donations will benefit Firefighter John Cox, who is battling cancer.
The public is invited to come and enjoy a lasagna dinner, live auction, silent auction, and split-the-pot. More than 40 “amazing items” were donated for the auctions.
The HVFD was formed in 1952 by the Area Civil Defense Volunteers. In 1954 it became the Homer Volunteer Fire Department Inc. In 1990 the HVFDI entered into an agreement that the incorporated department would transfer assets to the City of Homer. The building and most equipment had been funded by the city through the years, but volunteers realized they could no longer continue to run the administrative end of the service they provided to the community.
“Volunteers decided they could no longer dedicate the time,” Fire Chief Bob Painter said. “Federal and state regulations kept developing and they may have perceived liability issues. At the time, they wanted to step back and be volunteers and not have to operate the department administratively.”
Most volunteers are recruited by word of mouth through other volunteers.
“One volunteer will know somebody. That’s our biggest recruitment tool – one volunteer recruiting another volunteer,” Painter said.
Some have been regularly responding to emergencies for years, including longest reigning volunteer Gary Thomas at 30 years. Elaine Grabowski started as a volunteer nearly 30 years ago, and became a paid staff along the way.
Not all volunteers respond to fires. Several are “departmental” volunteers.
“One woman comes in and empties our trash cans in the building. Another photocopies our weekly newsletter. Another responds to calls or events and takes photos for us,” Painter said. “Another prepares meals if we have a long fire or call where we need to provide food to members on the scene.”
All of the firefighters or Emergency Medical Technicians are certified at Firefighter 1 level or EMT level 1 or higher levels. They have to be certified to be members of the department, Painter said.
For more information, or to make a donation, please call the Fire Department at 235-3155 or Monica at 435-7272.
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