ALBERT — Albert Volunteer Fire Chief Charles Keller is looking forward to being able to offer his firefighters another level of safety when filling air bottles at the station, thanks to the turnout at the 29th Annual Albert Volunteer Fire Department Pancake Feed and Raffle that happened Saturday, March 24.
“I really want to thank our sponsors for their support,” he said. “This wouldn’t be possible without them.”
New equipment is goal
Top on the list of equipment the department will purchase this year is a cylinder fill control station, used when refilling air bottles. It’s basically a locked cabinet with a mechanism designed, according to one manufacturer’s website, to contain the cylinder and any fragments of the cylinder and vent the expanding air away from the operator in the unlikely event of a cylinder rupturing while being filled.
“Right now we don’t have one,” Keller said. “We just fill them on the floor and hope for the best.”
The rest will be spent on new bunker gear to replace old that is nearing the end of its service life. This needs to be done whether the gear has been worn or not, Keller said.
“Helmets alone can cost $300 or more,” he said. “It can cost between $1,500 to $2,100 to replace bunker gear for just one firefighter.”
In past years, funds raised have gone to replace pumps or update extrication equipment like the Jaws-of-Life.
The Albert Volunteer Fire Department has a roster of 21 to 24 men at any one time. Every volunteer is certified to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillation (AED), and use all manner of extrication equipment that may be needed at the scene of an automobile accident. It is a city-owned department, Keller said, and they contract with three township including Walnut to the north, Clarence to the south, and Garfield to the west in Rush County.
“We also run rescue and EMS calls with Great Bend Fire and EMS,” he said.
Singing for their supper
New this year was the addition of music provided by Terry Hoffman and his son, Jason Hoffman, who make up the guitar duo “Double Take.” The Hoffmans live in Albert and last year volunteered their PA equipment so Keller wouldn’t need to shout, he said.
“This year, Terry asked if they could play during the feed,” he said. “They donated their time and ‘sang for their supper.’”
As always, the firefighters took turns flipping pancakes, cooking sausage and scrambling eggs for a non-stop line of supporters that some of the time stretched around the inside of the firehouse and outside the door. Volunteer youth manned the tables, bringing ice tea and clearing plates so there was always a new place ready for the next pancake connoisseur.
The annual feed also provides the department a chance to roll out the numerous rigs in its firefighting arsenal, shine them up and show them off.