2013-12-20 / In the Know

Fire companies give back to the community

By B. Michael Thurlow Special contributor

Today the Scarborough Fire Department is one municipal department operating under the town charter and primarily funded through the municipal budget. But that is a relatively new organizational structure that wasn’t established until the 1980s.

Before that the department consisted of different independent neighborhood companies that worked together to protect the community. They were started by volunteers and were funded primarily through donations and fund raising with limited town funding for major purchases in those early days. Some of the companies had fuel pumps and raised money by selling fuel, putting on dinners and dances, and a variety of other activities.

Even though those neighborhood fire companies are now incorporated into a modern municipal department, the call members that operate out of them still belong to their historical companies such as the Pleasant Hill Hose Company and those in other neighborhoods.

The companies still function as independent organizations with their own bylaws, company officers, and treasury. Many continue to raise money as they have done for nearly 100 years through bottle drives, helping the Lion’s Club put on roast beef suppers and a variety of other activities.

One might wonder, what do the call companies do with these funds they raise through the communities generosity when they drop off bottles for recycling at a fire station or attend a supper?

Most of the money is used to benefit people in need throughout our community. For example the Pleasant Hill Hose Company recently donated a considerable sum of money towards the purchase of Christmas gifts for families in need around town.

They are working with the general assistance office at town hall and the school department who will make sure they anonymously go to families that need a little help this holiday season.

The Pine Point Fire Company has done something similar over the past few years adopting a family and purchasing age appropriate gifts for everyone.

The Black Point Hose Company, Oak Hill Fire Company, Pleasant Hill Hose Company, Pine Point Ladies Auxiliary and Rescue Call Company all fund annual scholarships for graduating Scarborough High School students who are going on to college or trade schools.

These gifts are generally memorial scholarships in memory of some of their former members who contributed above and beyond the call of duty and have since passed away.

All of the companies jointly fund the annual cost to sponsor a fire department Little League team each year. Additionally the full time firefighters union and individual members raise money for a variety of worthy causes including Project G.R.A.C.E, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the American Lung Association, and many others.

The volunteer firefighters in Scarborough have been serving and protecting our community for nearly 100 years. They also have a long history of philanthropic service to others that I felt was important to highlight during this holiday season. So when you drop off bottles at one of our stations or support our call companies in other ways you know those funds are put to good use supporting local families or causes.

On behalf of all the members of the Scarborough Fire/ Rescue Department we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year. B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

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