When thinking of volunteer fire departments, most people think of service in rural areas. That’s not wrong, but it’s also not the whole picture. Of the nearly thirty thousand fire departments nationwide, 85% are served by volunteer/mostly volunteer firefighters. In many departments, volunteers serve alongside career firefighters, EMT’s and paramedics and provide invaluable support to the communities they serve. A lot of volunteer fire departments such as the Fair Oaks Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company 21 (FOVFR) in Fairfax, Virginia, rely on fundraising in order to raise funds to provide necessary services to the communities.
Fair Oaks Volunteer Fire & Rescue was established in 1957 and provides suppression and emergency medical services for Fairfax County, under the authority and in conjunction with career personnel of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD). The crew is certified in all levels of emergency services in order to meet the requirements set by National Fire Protection Standards. As volunteers the men and women of Company 21 have jobs or careers independent of their duties at the station.
Another key difference is that unlike FCFRD, the Fair Oaks Volunteer Fire & Rescue is recognized as an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation by the Commonwealth of Virginia. As such, the majority of their capital comes through their fundraising efforts. Citizens who donate funds to FOVFR may be able to deduct the value of their donations from their taxable income.
For the past several years, FOVFR has partnered with Fairfax Corner Ben & Jerry’s for Free Cone Day. Instead of Ben & Jerry’s employees, members from Company 21 are behind the counter serving ice cream. Fair Oaks EMT Chemeika Wood serves as event coordinator for Free Cone Day, and while her counterparts scooped, Chemeika connected with customers, handed out fire hats to kids, and let guests know that while there was no charge for the ice cream, they were encouraged to consider making a donation to FOVFR. She also took the opportunity to promote upcoming events and fundraisers.
On Saturday, May 27th, 2017 they’ll host their 9th annual Ambulance Chase 5K and 1/2 Mile Fun Run at the Fairfax County Government Center. Events such as these not only offer the opportunity to connect with the community in a positive way, but also raises awareness of their budgetary needs.
Funds raised in 2016 enabled Fair Oaks Fire & Rescue to purchase a , a vehicle that comes with a $279,155 price tag. Vehicles, uniforms and other essential apparatus are entirely at their expense. Without corporate and community sponsors, it would be impossible for volunteer fire departments like Fair Oaks to provide services and support to FCFRD and Fairfax County.
For more information on how to donate to Fair Oaks or to learn more information on volunteering, go to www.fovf.org.