Annual gun bash raises money for local firemen

The Gun-Cash Bash, an annual event to raise support hosted by the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Company committee, will be held Saturday from 3-10 p.m. on 1483 Jefferson Road.

“We’ve been doing this for the last 15-20 years,” Joe Petek, fire chief at the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Company said. “It’s a good fundraiser to get people to come to your events, you have to give them something to draw them in.”

In this case, the allure is a variety of firearms and accessories from Ozie’s Sports Shop boasting gear from Smith & Wesson and Cabela’s. There are also opportunities to win cash prizes ranging from $500 to a maximum of $2,000.

With volunteers comprising 96.9% of firefighters in Pennsylvania, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, support is necessary Petek said.

“The public does not understand what it takes to protect,” said Petek. “They just dial 911 and don’t know or care how you get there.”

Though the company does not typically set a goal for the fundraiser, the cost of maintaining a fire department is often not known by a typical citizen. With very little help from the state government, said Petek, maintaining fuel, insurance and the cost of equipment is difficult to manage.

“To outfit one firefighter to go into a fire you’re looking at $8,000-$10,000,” Petek said. “One set of pants and coat costs $3,000 and an air pack costs $5,000 or more.”

Petek explained that firefighters respond not only to fire emergencies but medical emergencies and car wrecks. 

“We raise support to offset the high cost of fire protection in our community,” Petek said. “A community couldn’t survive without a volunteer fire company.”

With 42 firefighters on the roster, the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Company employs different methods to keep its company afloat.

“We get a good bit of money from running the ambulance,” said Petek. “We’re sort of unique and run an RV park behind the fire hall and we use all those proceeds to run the department.”

Petek explained the maintenance and upkeep of the vehicles they utilize are the biggest financial burden right now.

“We have the main engine in the shop and it will cost over $5,000 to get it fixed. Things wear out; it’s a 2011 [model], which is a fairly new truck. This will help offset that cost.”

All proceeds from the event benefit the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Company. The event will offer free food and refreshments and is asking for a $20 donation along with the $10 entrance fee.

Winners do not have to be present; however, there is an incentive to be there as some monetary prizes are higher when the winner is present.

The event is open to those 12 years old and older, and emphasizes all guns are awarded by state and federal guidelines.

“Come out and support your local fire departments,” Petek said. “They’re there for a reason. To exist takes a lot of money. Support not only ours but every fire department.”