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Arlee Fire Department raises $8,000 at annual pancake breakfast

ARLEE – Every year since 1984 the Arlee Volunteer Fire Department has served an all-you-can-eat breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausage in order to better equip their firefighters.

Arlee firemen served up one of their most successful breakfasts yet on July 4, raising approximately $8,000 to purchase new equipment.

“Everybody in the area gets together, it’s the coolest thing,” said Arlee Fire Department Capt. Drew Hendrickson. “They stop in for breakfast, then stick around until the parade.” 

Margret Hillary has attended the breakfast every year for the last eight years. She said the 17-mile drive is worth it to get some pancakes and see all of the people. “It’s a great way for the community to support the local firemen,” she said. 

The annual Fireman’s Picnic Breakfast is the primary fundraiser for the Arlee Volunteer Fire Department at $5 a head, Capt. Hendrickson said. The proceeds are used for new equipment. 

The breakfast, silent auction, and other donations have helped the department raise an average of $5,000 to $7,000 in past years. The money has been used to help the department purchase things such as the Jaws of Life, ambulance equipment and scene lighting. 

According to Hendrickson, fire equipment is expensive. He noted that the gear worn by firefighters runs about $5,000 per person. 

Though the money from this year’s fundraiser isn’t earmarked for a specific purpose, the crew may be considering an update to their thermal imaging gear. Units can run upwards of $10,000. 

Former Chief Ken Light said that the fundraiser is a helpful supplement to the department’s budget. Each year the department gets an operating budget from the county. While the ambulance unit is mostly self-supporting, the rest of the fire department is largely underfunded, he said. The fundraiser allows the crew to fill in the funding gap and purchase new equipment to keep up to date. “The fundraiser provides a chance for the community to give something back, and they always come out in droves,” Light said. 

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