South Torch Lake Fire Fighters Association aids the community in many ways. By Priscilla Miller
That roast beef sandwich you purchase at the Firefighter’s Annual Beef Roast being held on Saturday, July 25th during Alden Days may actually help save someone’s life someday and it could be yours or that of a loved one! This event along with the Annual Pancake Breakfast held during the station’s open house in October and a spaghetti dinner held each spring are put on by the Alden Firefighter’s Association in efforts to raise funds for additional equipment needed by the South Torch Lake Fire Department. Equipment that the fire district may not financially be able to provide.
Over the years these fundraisers coupled with donations from both public and private contributors have enabled the Alden Fire Fighter’s Association to purchase life saving equipment such as the Thermo Imaging Camera (for locating victims in a smoke filled structure or missing hunters in densely wooded areas) a Water Rescue Boat and trailer along with an Ice Rescue Suit and an AED (defibrillator for heart attack victims).
Money raised by the firefighters and a donation from Turtle Creek Casino along with matching funds from the South Torch Lake Fire District went to purchase six new lightweight “state of the art” Self Contained Breathing Apparatus which makes it easier for firefighters to enter smoke filled structures.
Once the association purchases the equipment it is then donated to the district for use by the department. This is done for insurance purposes. At the top of this year’s shopping list is new “Turn Out Gear” because some of the old gear will soon be ten years old and by law considered “obsolete” it will have to be replaced.
There are presently fifteen members in the department. One member is currently serving in Iraq and only about nine or ten are active members. The territory they cover consists of about half of Custer Township, all of Helena Township and medical runs are made to South Milton Township. The firefighters are on call twenty- four seven. When their “pagers” go off they drop whatever they are doing to answer the call. On occasion if the department finds itself short of manpower a call for mutual aid from a neighboring fire department is made. South Torch Lake Fire Department also responds to calls for mutual aid from other departments.
While the basic instinct of both man and beast is to run from flames it takes a special person with special training to risk their own life by running into a fire in an effort to save someone’s life or possessions. Not everyone may want to do this but Chief Jesse Lane says, “the department is always looking for individuals willing to work in a support capacity. They can do things such as driving, helping with equipment, directing traffic and just helping out in general.” He says, “anyone interested in joining the department can call me at 231-409-6876 , show up at the fire hall for a meeting on the first or third Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. or if you see a South Torch Lake Fire Department license plate on the front of a vehicle, flag the driver down!”
Besides doing the obvious jobs of responding to accidents, medical emergencies, rescues and fires the department participates in two hometown parades a year and hosts the Annual Halloween Party at Tennis Court Park. They also provide fire prevention materials to the local day care facility.
Last year the department answered about one hundred and seventy calls. Of these about one hundred and twenty were EMS runs. In fact most of the firefighters are trained EMT’s and an EMT Training Class is scheduled for this fall. The Fire Rescue Truck is in the process of being upgraded to an EMT Basic Vehicle and will have more advanced air ways and medical supplies on board. This four wheel drive vehicle while not intended for transporting patients has been used several times in instances where an ambulance could not access the scene of an emergency.
Anyone wishing to show their appreciation and support to the fire fighters may do so by making a donation to the Alden Fire Fighter’s Association at P. O. Box 38 Alden, MI 49612