Normally, the Hemlock Valley Fire Department holds a casino night to raise money for the firefighting team. But 2021 hasn’t been normal.
“We can’t do a lot of things to have fun” because of COVID-19, firefighter Kelly McCormack said.
That’s why he’s decided to help the department meet its fundraising goals by going digital this year.
The hope is that the funds raised this year will be enough to purchase computers for the department’s fire trucks to better understand the fires.
“Hemlock had 39 feet of snow this year,” McCormack said. “You can imagine that you can’t even see houses, because when you’re driving down the road the walls of snow are so high.”
“Even if we’re not sure what we’re getting into, at least the computer will be able to tell us what the structure looks like,” he continued. “It will just give us more information.”
The department is also holding an online auction to try and raise money, by auctioning off items like Sasquatch Mountain Resort packages, a 43” TV, Sandpiper Resort golf packages, Aberlour scotch whisky and others.
Firefighters had also reached out to homeowners in the Hemlock Valley for their support.
That money will be presented to the fire department this Saturday (March 20), where the fire department will also be aiming to sign up new volunteers.
|Trucks at the Hemlock Valley Fire Department. The department has recently received a new fire truck, which will be on display at the ski hill on March 20. (Contributed)|
In the past, the fire department has put on other events to help raise awareness for the department, including letting kids try on the department’s equipment they use to tackle fires and walk a ways down the hill.
“It’s something we do all the time if we have to go to a fire, and it’s something unique for kids to get to put that gear on,” McCormack said.
While that event can’t happen this year because of COVID-19, McCormack is hoping they can still get people involved with the fire hall though its event on March 20.
“We’ll have tents with music and sign up sheets,” McCormack said. The new fire truck, which was brought up the mountain last week, will be on display, and firefighters will be skiing down the mountain in their gear.
The fire department only has 14 members, which doesn’t add up to much when many of them are only on the mountain part-time. They are hoping that they can bring in some new volunteer firefighters on board.
“We all have something to protect up there,” McCormack said about the firefighters in the department.
Only three of the 14 firefighters live in Hemlock Valley all year round, and the rest are there only part time. This means that there aren’t always many firefighters near by when the department is called for fires, or often medical emergencies.
“We’ve had a lot of air ambulance evacuations in the past three weeks. We get called for some of those, just to help set up a landing zone or to help with whoever’s in distress,” he continued.
“People break legs too often skiing or snowboarding, and they have to be airlifted out.”
The fire department will be on the ski hill between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 20, with the Hemlock Valley Homeowners Association presenting their cheque around 12:30 p.m.