Citizens who are fortunate enough to never have to use the services of the Albany Fire/Rescue Department may not realize the importance of the squad. Even those who have had to call upon them in time of need probably don’t realize the time and expense of keeping firefighters trained and equipped.
The cost of maintaining personal equipment for a fire department the size of Albany’s exceeds $100,000 alone and that doesn’t even count equipment such as tanker trucks and so forth.
It is for these reasons that smaller, all-volunteer departments such as the one in Albany hold their annual fundraiser, simply to obtain enough funding to help properly equip and maintain turnout gear for the department.
The annual Albany Fire and Rescue portrait fundraiser got underway this past Monday, February 18 and will continue over the next couple of weeks, giving residents the opportunity to get at least one free family portrait and help the fire department in the process.
Michael Watkins of Burkesville, whose portrait business has been working with the Albany Fire Department for the past several years, said around five to eight individuals would be going door-to-door around the county for two to three weeks offering residents the chance for portraits for a $20 donation to the local fire and rescue. Those who accept the offer, regardless if they purchase any more photos, will receive an 8×10 family portrait for their donation.
Watkins said the fund drive raised about $4,000 in 2012 and the average amount varies, depending on the participation and largely on economic conditions as well, but the average raised has been around $3,600 annually.
Albany Fire Chief Robert Roeper said the department is in desperate need of turnout gear and although the cost for complete sets of that equipment including self-controlled breathing equipment, would cost around $117,000 for the total 24 firefighers the department now has.
Whatever funds raised from the current fund drive will be used toward turnout gear for the firemen, he said.
Roeper noted that all active members–which is up by two firemen from a year ago–had to take required training, including 150 hours of state certified training over the first two years.
Some six firemen will be taking training in Elizabethtown soon and since it is hard to get training sessions scheduled locally, firefighters have to travel out-of-town, usually to Liberty, Kentucky, to receive the training necessary to become certified, he said.
Roeper estimated the cost for gear and training for each firefighter to cost approximately $7,200.
The fire chief also noted that the number of runs made by the department last year increased over 2011. In 2012, the fire/rescue responded to some 352 calls, which is almost an average of one per day. That compares to 286 runs made the previous year.
Even persons who may not be interested in getting portraits, but still would like to help the local fire department, can do so by making monetary donations to the department. Donations directed to the Albany Fire and Rescue can be taken to Albany City Hall at any time.