BUYCK- Cook State Farm Insurance Agent Tim Johnson has good reason to reserve a place in his heart for firefighters. His father was the fire chief in the “really small town” he grew up …
BUYCK- Cook State Farm Insurance Agent Tim Johnson has good reason to reserve a place in his heart for firefighters. His father was the fire chief in the “really small town” he grew up in.
So, when Johnson found himself in a conversation with Buyck Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kathy Weiand, he also found a perfect candidate for his agency’s Quotes for Good program.
For the months of March and April, quotes Johnson made for insurance generated donations from his agency toward the Buyck department, and Weiand made sure there were plenty of quotes.
“She jumped on board right away, and they actually promoted it to people,” Johnson said. “It was fun, and it’s been fun to actually learn more about the department.”
And it was even more fun when Johnson drove to Buyck on May 10 to present a $1,500 check to Weiand and seven members of the department. They accepted the donation in front of a railroad fire truck they purchased last fall that will be reconfigured as part brush truck, part EMS truck.
“We need to furnish this because we don’t want to take stuff off of our other trucks, and that’s what this money is going to go toward,” Weiand said.
It’s an important combination, as in a typical year the 12-member department makes three times more EMS runs than fire calls.
“We have three or four fire calls a year, but we have like 13 EMS calls a year, so we go on a lot more of those,” Weiand said. “And we even do rescue stuff. We work with St. Louis County Sheriff’s rescue, and each year we do more and more training. So then, of course, it seems like we need more and more equipment.”
Like many volunteer departments, the Buyck crew skews older in age, ranging from 46 on the young side to a well-seasoned 79 on the top end, but that hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm for making improvements. In addition to the two pumpers and the new brush/EMS truck, the department bought a snowmobile sled to do snowmobile rescues.
“We work closely with Orr, but it’s still a distance, and if we can get to them first, we can help them as much as we can before we can get them out,” Weiand said.
And for those times when a critically injured patient needs to be transported by air ambulance, the crew recently worked together to create a designated landing zone near the station for a medevac helicopter.
“We keep moving forward to keep making it easier for us to get help for everybody and all the residents here,” Weiand said.
The independent volunteer department has been operating since 1976, and while it gets some state fire aid funding, fundraisers have been essential to keeping it going and growing. The signature event, the Pork/Corn Feed and Auction, has already been scheduled for Aug. 7. Three types of barbecued meat, sides brought by townsfolk, and auction items from businesses and individuals will be all be ready for the anticipated crowd.
“We’ve been doing that for over 40 years,” Weiand said. “People just have a great time. They love it.”
Later in the fall will be the annual gun raffle, and those who don’t win the gun will likely be happy winning one of the consolation prizes, which Weiand said they change from year to year. They’re also looking at the possibility of doing another fundraiser in conjunction with an ATV or snowmobile club.
And if all that isn’t quite enough for a dozen dedicated volunteers to do, there’s yet another big project on the drawing board. Weiand gestured to a vacant church next door to the fire station.
“We own that church over there, and the property,” she said. “Our plan is eventually to build some more garages off of there, and we’ll use that for our training hall. We’ll still hang on to (the station building) because then we’ll have more of our EMS stuff in here. Eventually, we hope to get a side-by-side to do ATV rescues with, so we’ll have that equipment in here and have the bigger trucks in the new garage.”
Weiand said that she and all of the department members were grateful to Johnson and everyone who called in asking for quotes.
“This community is so supportive,” she said. “They’ll do anything they can to help us, and apparently they did so.”