Sounding an alarm for Earleigh Heights fire funds

NEIGHBORS

December 17, 1998|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company on Ritchie Highway has been saving lives and property for 80 years.

The holiday season is reason enough to donate, but understand that the firefighters also save residents considerable money by helping to keep down county real estate taxes and insurance premiums.

In addition, the station house, built in 1957, needs considerable renovation.

A building fund drive has been established with a goal of collecting $700,000 to finance the construction of two bays and a second floor above the additions for improved living space and offices.

Female firefighters and paramedics now share sleeping quarters. There are two paid, full-time firefighters and two full-time paramedics on duty 24 hours a day.

The station has three fire engines with hoses and ladders and carrying as much as 500 gallons of water. The two newer engines are 10 years old. The 10-year-old squad truck is a huge, heavy-duty rescue vehicle.

The company hopes to sell the squad truck to help buy a new truck with an aerial tower (a 100-foot-high ladder with a bucket on top capable of holding six people).

"Due to the growth in the area and the assisted-living homes, we need this kind of equipment," said Chuck Mohr, president of the Earleigh Heights Fire Company, who also is a county police detective.

"With approval, we can switch one engine to a specialty piece with extraction tools, jaws of life, air bottles and fans. We'll operate an engine like a squad."

A truck with a tower, which costs about $800,000, won't fit into the existing building.

"A new truck plus the renovation will cost around $1.6 million," said Mohr. "In September, the company applied for capital projects grants from the county, and we've already received a grant of $127,000.

"A new exhaust system for the bays alone will cost $75,000," said Mohr, who handles the everyday operations of the station. "We do receive county money for operating the fire side, but that lasts from six months to a year."

To augment its income, the company runs weekly bingo nights on Wednesday and regularly leases its public rooms to community organizations.

"Everyone looks forward to our Santa Claus runs," Mohr said. "But we can't promise exactly what time we'll be in each community."

Santa will ride atop the fire engine Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. In case of rain, Santa will try for Wednesday.

Checks may be sent to Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company, P.O. Box 547, Severna Park 21146. For hall rental information, call 410-544-2880.

Pub Date: 12/17/98

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