Olive oil is her favorite base of choice when it comes to meat and vegetables. She places a pot on the stove filled with water and sets the burner to high, and out comes a frying pan to its right where she ignites the burner next to it and gives a healthy douse of olive oil to warm for the veggies. While thinly slicing fresh garlic, a blood-curdling scream comes out of no-where, “MOOOOOOOMMMM!” This is the fifth time she’s stopped what she’s doing since getting home from work to break up arguments between 5 and 7-year-old brothers. She wipes her hands on the kitchen towel, pushes it down frustrated next to the stove, and heads to the bottom of the stairs so she can put an end to the madness – at least until dinner’s on the table. The only sounds she hears in response to “Get down, here – both of you!” is more fighting in their upstairs bedroom. She starts up the stairs and heads to the boys to break up the fight. As she places her hand on the bedroom door to widen it more, her spine-shocked with a new frightening sound – the smoke detector. As she races back down the kitchen is nearly filled with black smoke. Her choices are to get the boys out or to attempt to stop the fire. She chooses the boys and dials 911 on her way out of the house. She gives her Hickory Hills address and within two minutes the fire company is on their way.
The response time to a fire determines how salvageable the home is, and how many lives can be saved. While this may seem melodramatic, it’s a scenario our local firefighters know all too well. Hockessin Fire Company responds to 1000 fire calls and 1600 EMS calls every year. That’s almost 3 fire calls every single day (or night). Cooking fires are the highest source of home fires and injuries, and account for 43% of all house fires.
According to ready.gov, it takes less than 30 seconds for a small flame to turn into a major fire, just a few minutes for black smoke to fill a home, and tests have proven that some newer homes with large amounts of synthetic furnishings can be fully engulfed in flames in as little as 4 minutes. Fortunately, we have Hockessin Fire Company right in town – the next closest fire stations are more than 10 minutes away. Adding 10 minutes to every fire or EMS call can be the difference between life and death.
Our local fire company, Hockessin Station 19, employs 11 people with salaries and benefits, but emergency services are an around-the-clock job. Thirty additional volunteers are required to keep the schedule full. During every 24-hour period, there are 5 trained Firefighter/EMTs on staff ready to take on any call that comes their way.
The fire company is required to raise more than half of their 1.8-million-dollar budget every year, which means they have to come up with around a million dollars in order to operate. It costs more than $3,000 to outfit a firefighter, not including the tanks and masks they wear. This year, those tanks are all in need of replacement – a cost of $170,000.
While EMT services are often paid out by copays and insurance to help reimburse the Fire Company for ambulance transportation, it doesn’t always cover the full cost and there is no reimbursement for fire calls. That means there’s no income to help maintain three large trucks – a ladder truck, a tanker, and a rescue engine, all of which are on call 24 hours a day if you ever need them.
Woodside Creamery Owners, Jim and Janet Mitchell, recognized the need to lend a hand so they began a tradition at the Woodside Creamery Farm that has continued to grow in patronage and support every year – The Fire Company Appreciation Day. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 1, and will feature pulled pork sandwiches from a pig roast held by our very own Hockessin Firefighters, children’s activities, and of course, Woodside’s famous ice cream. Another feature of the event is the ever-popular “Cow Pie Bingo.” The Mitchell’s mark off 625 squares in one of their pastures and at 6:00 pm, they’ll let two of their Jersey cows into the pasture – the first one to make a pie on a square determines the winner! Bingo tickets are still available, but not expected to last long – tickets can be purchased at Woodside Creamery for just $5.00 each. The winner will take home $500!
The Woodside Fire Company Appreciation Day raises more than $3,000 every year. For more information on helping out or joining the event, please contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org.