ST. PAUL - After a number of attempts to reschedule the St. Paul Fire Department's 75th anniversary gala, a decision to permanently cancel the event was made just weeks ahead of the most recent Sept. 25 event date. And while the cancellation of the event was disappointing enough on its own, the event was also meant to act as a fundraiser for an important piece of firefighting equipment that is already in service with the department.
The purchase of a wildland firefighting unit was a joint effort between the County of St. Paul and the St. Paul Firefighters Association.
The total project cost was $92,275, and the Firefighters Association committed to contributing just over $45,000. The County of St. Paul picked up the remaining balance.
"During our wildland fire season, this unit is one of the most resourced pieces of equipment we have," says Fire Chief Trevor Kotowich. "It enables two firefighters to get to scene quickly, and try to head off a fast-moving fire, and direct additional incoming resources."
Purchasing the wildland unit was a project chosen by the members of the volunteer fire department, as a way to commemorate the organization's 75th anniversary in 2020. Because the celebration gala had to be cancelled, the department faced a challenge in raising some of the remaining funds needed to pay for the unit.
But, a local business has stepped in to help out, and has removed some of the financial burden. In late September, Shawn Saik of Saik Insurance Services Ltd. - The Co-operators presented the Firefighters Association with a cheque for $10,000. Funds came from the Co-operators Advisor Community Fund.
Saik said that when he and Kotowich started talking about the project, it just made sense for the company to step up to support the cause.
Chris Schuh, president of the Firefighters Association, said the funds are very much appreciated, and the new wildland unit it something that can quickly change the outcome of a fire. The unit helps firefighters get an early attack on a fire, and that alone can help save both property and time.
The wildland unit has been in service since March of this year.