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Upper Township FD hosts ‘Community Day’

Seven-year-old Ayden Bayless gives McGruff the Crime Dog a high five during the Upper Township Fire Department Community Day event Saturday.

Seven-year-old Ayden Bayless gives McGruff the Crime Dog a high five during the Upper Township Fire Department Community Day event Saturday.

HECLA — With a 2-mill operating levy on the November ballot members of the Upper Township Fire Department hosted a “Community Day” to show support for the community and garner support for the levy.

“We want to show the people in the community we support them and we want their support,” J.D. Pancake, chief of the Upper Township Fire Department, said. “Without the voters’ support of the levy we simply could not operate.”

Many agencies, groups, businesses and organizations had booths at the event such as Backpack Buddies, Air Evac Lifeteam, Sunset Nursing Center, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and the Head Start Program. Free hot dogs and beans were given away and M&M inflatables donated a jump house for children. The fire safety trailer was also in operation.

The 2-mill levy generates around $30,000 annually — more than half — of the department’s $56,000 yearly operating budget. A separate 1-mill levy generates the remainder for the department of 22 volunteer firefighters.

“There are some people who think a mill means a million,” Pancake said. “I’ve heard people say we are sitting here with $3 million in the bank and nothing could be farther from the truth. The doors here are always open if anyone ever has any questions.”

The 2-mill levy costs taxpayers less than $20 per year, Pancake said, and the purpose of “Community Day” was to show that the levy is not a waste of money.

“All day we have had people dropping off donations,” Pancake said. “We are always taking donations and we use that money toward our operating expenses and to buy new equipment.”

The $56,000 annual budget pays for the department’s insurance, workers’ compensation, fuel, utilities, building payment and maintenance, equipment and equipment testing and repairs and truck maintenance.

“Whenever we can we like to stay involved in the community,” Pancake said. “This isn’t our fire department. It’s the taxpayers’ fire department.”

Upper Township Fire Department President Doug McMahan said head-to-toe equipment for one firefighter costs $7,500 and some things often need replaced.

“Every few years we have to buy new air masks,” McMahan said. “Each one of those costs $5,250.”

McMahan also stressed the importance of donations with regard to the day-to-day operations of the department.

“We have small fundraisers throughout the year,” he said. “We have a TV and a couch in our office here in the building and all of that was donated. If it wasn’t donated, we wouldn’t have it. It’s as simple as that.”