By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
PERTH -- Fundraising efforts undertaken by the ladies' auxiliary of the Perth Volunteer Fire Company helped purchase new turnout gear for six firefighters this month.
The auxiliary donated $6,000 toward the $9,750 purchase. The funds were presented at the company's annual banquet in January.
"It really helps us because these are purchases that would otherwise put a hardship on the fire company," said Chief Peter Watrobski. He said he's ordered the gear, and it should be delivered in the next few months.
The six sets -- a jacket and pants -- cost $1,625 apiece, though to outfit a firefighter from top-to-bottom, it would cost $2,140, Watrobski said. The latter figure factors in boots, helmets, gloves and a hood.
"Every year we try to get new gear, because interior suits have to be replaced every 10 years," Watrobski said, referring to standard uniform criteria. "It doesn't matter if it's good or not."
"Some of our interior guys answer every single call, so their gear won't even last 10 years," Watrobski added.
There are 42 members on the company's roster, and to date the company has already responded to nearly 50 fire calls.
The company's 2013 budget amounts to $176,500. Watrobski said $21,000 of that pays for insurance, while $85,000 goes to debt service for the continued repayment of loans taken out for engines, trucks and tankers.
That equipment also requires regular maintenance, as Watrobski said the fleet is aging. For example, the company's main engine is 16-years-old.
Some unanticipated expenses for repairs this year include hydraulic work on an older ladder truck that's currently out-of-service, which will cost between $2,200 and $3,000 to fix.
"If you multiply those costs by the eight trucks we have, it adds up quickly," Watrobski said.
Auxiliary President Linda Swietlicki said the group has three major fundraisers every year -- its annual Halloween party, an election day bake sale and a dinner raffle, which is currently underway. The auxiliary seeks gift certificate donations from local eateries, sells tickets for them, then they're given away in late June.
"Without the fundraisers, we wouldn't be able to operate," said Capt. Steve Westerling. "If we relied on our budget alone, we'd have to go to the town for more money."
"Our reason for existing is to promote the fire department," Swietlicki said. "Considering the things they do for our community, someone has to stand behind them. They do an incredible job."
Anyone interested in purchasing tickets for the dinner raffle can call and leave a message at the fire station at 883-8238.
Swietlicki said members of the auxiliary will additionally be selling the raffle tickets at the Route 30 Walmart in the town of Amsterdam May 17, June 7 and 14, and the Route 30A Walmart in the town of Johnstown on May 18 and June 14 and 15.