BERLIN– The Berlin Fire Company is seeking community support as Fire Prevention Month approaches.
October is National Fire Prevention Month and the Berlin Fire Company (BFC) is asking for donations and sponsorships to purchase coloring books and hats to offer local children.
“It’s important to reach the children at a young age about fire prevention,” said David Fitzgerald, BFC president. “That can save a life.”
Fire Prevention Month is marked nationwide each October. According to the National Fire Protection Association, this year’s Fire Prevention Week, which is Oct. 9-15, has a theme of “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.”
BFC representatives have long made a habit of visiting local elementary schools and daycare facilities to talk with young children about fire safety during Fire Prevention Month.
“We try to bring the fire engine and maybe Sparky,” Fitzgerald said.
While they still plan to do that this year, they’re seeking donations to enable them to continue to give out the hats and coloring books they typically provide to children during these visits. Fitzgerald said they typically cost the fire company close to $4,500.
“With the cutbacks in the budget that had to be done as a result of the town’s flat funding, the fire company took a reduction,” Fitzgerald said. “We are looking for donations.”
He said that in addition to giving away materials to promote fire safety in October, the fire company tried to keep some on hand for the kids who visited the fire station on Main Street or for when fire company representatives attended community events.
While Mayor Zack Tyndall stressed the importance of Fire Safety Month, he said that the town had nearly doubled the fire company’s funding this year. In addition to the usual $400,000, the town provided $125,000 for additional personnel, $220,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds for capital needs and $47,500 for EMS capital purchases. He said the first he heard that the BFC couldn’t afford to purchase fire prevention materials was during a conversation with Fitzgerald Monday night, just four days before the start of Fire Prevention Month.
“With more notice, there are multiple funding streams we can help them pursue,” he said.
Tyndall, a former BFC member himself, reiterated the importance of teaching fire safety and said it was a valuable service the fire company provided to the community. He noted that the town couldn’t help with issues officials weren’t aware of, however.
“There’s a lot we can do together but I think we need to know about the challenges first,” he said.
Those looking to provide funding support for the fire prevention program should mail to: Berlin Fire Company, Inc., Attn: Fire Prevention, 214 N. Main Street, Berlin, Md. 21811.