The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

May 16, 2014

Community rallies to aid firefighters

Somerset County department gets big donations

JOHNSTOWN — Volunteer firefighters are always there to support the people of the communities that they serve.

It’s nice to see that people and organizations of northern Somerset County have the firefighters’ backs as well.

On Saturday, Central City Volunteer Fire Department dedicated the opening of an auxiliary garage that was financed almost entirely by groups in the area. The Cairnbrook Community Club donated $25,000 and VFW Post 7457 of Central City kicked in $1,000 to help pay for construction of the building.

“There are just so many pluses to having this building,” fire Chief Dale Russian told reporter Randy Griffith. “It’s just fantastic the way the clubs came through.”

We could not agree more. We’d love to see more people rally behind organizations that are vital to the success of the community.

The fire department is so important to the individuals and businesses that it serves that it made sense for the VFW to help out, according to club President Steve Putnick.

“We try to keep our money in the community,” he said. “Our first responders get here in three to five minutes. It will take 20 minutes to get here from Windber. That’s a big difference that could save somebody’s life.”

It certainly is. The garage also can help the fire department save precious time, especially in the winter. In the past, emergency response vehicles were housed under a simple canopy. While the roof kept snow and ice from landing directly on the vehicles, the possibility of either or both gathering on the windows was very real. That could force responders to clean them before heading out to the emergency.

The fire department had been looking at building a garage, but was unsure how to finance it.

“We’ve been talking about this for a while,” Russian said. “It just wasn’t in the budget.”

Thankfully the organizations came through in a big way for the fire department.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy for the department to meet the other needs that it has.

“Financially, it’s always difficult,” Russian said. “We are asking everybody to respond to the fund-drive letter. We are asking people to think what really makes a difference.”

Volunteer fire departments, both in Central City and elsewhere, definitely do that. We hope that other firefighters in need find their respective communities as supportive as the ones that Russian’s department serves.

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