Firefighters are our friends.
That was the message printed on green, yellow and red balloons that children and adults walked around carrying Sunday morning at the annual Edgartown Fireman’s Association Open House and Pancake Breakfast held at the fire station.
This was the fifth year the all-volunteer department invited the community to come over and eat breakfast with them for free.
Kids donning red plastic firefighter helmets pointed to a rescue ladder soaring into the clouds while moms, dads and grandparents tried feeding forkfuls of syrup-drenched pancakes into their mouths.
The breakfast of pancakes, bacon, sausage links, fruit, juice and coffee was “on the fire house” but donations were happily accepted and collected inside big rubber fire boots posted around and inside the station.
President of the Edgartown Fireman’s Association Jake Sylvia said the annual August fundraiser raises money for the firefighter scholarship fund. In addition to donations, the department raises money by selling light pink, navy blue, white and grey T-shirts, as well as hats and coffee mugs.
Mr. Sylvia said Edgartown firefighters spent a month planning this year’s breakfast, which included multiple demonstrations with firetrucks outside, all narrated by deputy chief Alex Schaeffer. The turnout this year, Mr. Sylvia said, was “just like the other years: great.”
Inside the fire department kitchen, Captain Sam Koohy said an estimated 1,000 people flood the station each year to attend the free breakfast. The firefighters host it, he said, to thank the community. “This is about community and us giving back to the community,” Mr. Koohy said while holding a spatula smothered in pancake batter. “It’s about showing them what we do on a daily basis. That’s the whole purpose of our open house.”
But some members of the community are already familiar with what the firefighters do.
William Cress of Watertown, who was seriously injured in an accident last July while riding his bike in Edgartown, used the opportunity to publicly thank the firefighters and rescue squad who saved his life. At the open house, he handed fire chief Peter Shemeth and Mr. Schaeffer a check for $15,000, money he raised last month by hosting a fundraiser on the one-year anniversary of the accident.
Through the eyes of many, like Mr. Cress and the countless children posing for pictures inside of big red trucks, volunteer firefighters are seen as heroes. On Sunday, they were seen as something else – friends.