Muster event benefits BCFD-based nonprofit
by Jessica Loeding
Jul 25, 2014 | 1066 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Founded in January, the Firefighter HOPE Foundation brings assistance to those closest to home — the men, women and children connected to the Bartow County Fire Department.

“The foundation is a nonprofit organization that we started, the firefighters here in the department,” said Firefighter HOPE Foundation President and BCFD Firefighter Kip Warren. “We started it for simple reasons like we go out a lot of the times to help out citizens in the community, and when a firefighter is injured or gets hurt, has to go off the job — if it’s workman’s comp or if it’s not workman’s comp — it’s kind of hard because we make our money as far as on shift, whether we count on the overtime we get or on our off days. A lot of us work jobs on our off days. So if somebody’s hurt they can’t even go and make money to actually benefit them and their family. So we started it to actually help that aspect of it for the firefighters that’s on shift.”

The Firefighter HOPE (Helping Other People Everyday) Foundation aims to build funding through a muster event Saturday. Scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., the competition at the Clarence Brown Conference Center is open to fire departments, Explorer posts and the public and will feature firefighter events — busted hose, serpentine, bucket brigade and more.

“Basically it’s a firefighter competition where firefighters get to go out and display their skills, things that we learn and that we know,” Warren said. “The cool thing about the actual competition and a good thing about us this year is we actually have Explorers now. Explorers are high school kids that are interested [in the fire service] from ages 14 to 21.”

Raffle events will be held throughout the day for items from City Swirl, Tractor Supply, and Academy Sports + Outdoors among others. The muster event also provides events for the public.

“The things I like about it is we have kids events, so we actually do age groups for the kids. We let them do firefighter events. Basically we just [shrink] it down,” Warren said.

In the nonprofit’s first six months, the agency has provided assistance on three occasions.

“We have assisted three people already. We’ve helped out one of our own. We’ve also helped out another agency, a local agency in the county. We’ve also helped out one citizen in the community as well already this year,” Warren said. “We did some financial assistance with two of them, and one we actually assisted that agency with a boot drive when we helped out the other agency. Basically they were in need of trying to raise some money for one of their own, so we basically just provided some manpower to go out there to do help show how a boot drive goes and actually do a boot drive with them to help raise money for that particular individual.”

Funds raised Saturday will go for future assistance to firefighters, their families and the community “in times of hardship or loss due to illness, injury, fire, disasters or other unfortunate circumstances.”

“The foundation promotes further education and training for firefighters in the area. The foundation will also serve as an advocate for victims and fire service personnel and need to pair them with other support organizations to assist them with their needs,” Warren said. “There’s a lot of times we see things out here that we can’t do anything about while we would love to, but a lot of times we have to finish either mopping up a fire, cleaning up or getting back, getting the truck back in service. So, a lot of times it breaks our heart, kills us because we don’t want to see a family do without or something if they’re not getting the assistance [they] need, so this is a way legally we can step in on our off time.”

Firefighter HOPE Foundation is open to anyone associated with the Bartow County Fire Department, including full-time, part-time or volunteer employees and retirees.

For more information on Saturday’s muster competition or to donate, contact Warren at 678-986-7634 or email firefighterhopefoundation@gmail.com.