Appleton VFD to raise funds for bigger fire house
By By Lydia Grimes
Raising funds for a new fire station is a daunting — but not impossible — task, Appleton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Michael Tyler said.
The effort is part of the department’s efforts to make its unit as efficient as possible, he said.
The growing needs of the department mean the firefighters are outgrowing the existing fire station.
The Appleton district now covers about 110 square miles, with 1,600 residential homes and a population of 5,600 permanent residents, 12 churches and 30 businesses, Tyler said. In the mid-1980s, the department responded to 15 to 20 calls per year. That volume has grown to more than 250 calls annually.
With so much activity, the department is outgrowing its current quarters.
With limited funding from the state — some of which could be threatened by current budget cuts — the department often relies on grants to help fund equipment. The department has received new head-to-toe turnout gear, air packs, needed equipment and money for training from these grants over the last five years.
In 1985, the department had one old truck that was originally a street sweeper converted to a pumper with a homemade water tank to respond to their calls. Last year, the department accepted a new 2009 commercial pumper, which was made possible by Assistance to Firefighters Grant through FEMA. This truck brings the number in the fleet to three pumpers, two wildland brush trucks, and one medical first response unit.
But the new truck had just one problem: It is too large to fit into the current fire house. The current station has only one bay and the door is too short for the new vehicle and the building is not large enough to store all the vehicles. There is no place for training and no storage space for the equipment.
To solve the problem, firefighters had to remove the roll-up door of the fire house and replace it with wooden doors the firefighters built themselves. But that solution is not secure for the new fire truck, Tyler said.
Within the last five years, the department has had six members complete the 160-hour certified volunteer firefighters course, with three completing firefighter II (which is the same as a career firefighter), nine members certified as first responders, seven members who are Emergency Medical Technician, and two certified as Alabama Fire College instructors.
In the next few months the fire department will be having several fundraisers to raise money for the building project.
The next fundraiser is planned for April 23-24, with chicken plates sold that weekend. Only group orders to be delivered in the Brewton area will be on Friday, April 23. Plates will be sold on Saturday, April 24, from the fire station. Plates are $6 each and will include chicken, baked beans, slaw, bread, dessert and drink. Call 809-3703 for orders.