Katrina Hurting Fundraising Efforts For Maryland Fire Departments

A Baltimore County fire department trained to aid others is now asking for help.

WBAL-TV 11 News reporter Jennifer Franciotti said they are the first responders -- firefighters, EMTs, medics -- all ready to help in an emergency, but it is the Owings Mills Volunteer Fire Department that is in trouble.

Fire Capt. Mike Fold said the station is nearly $70,000 behind in fundraising this year.

"The 21 years that I've been here, this is the most serious that I can remember," Fold said.

The volunteer company took a huge hit in June when its annual carnival was cancelled. Mail-in donations are down more by more than $17,000.

Franciotti reported that officials blame "The Katrina Effect" for the drop in donations.

"We're seeing the downside," Fold said. "Everyone has given -- tsunami, our disaster here -- and we're on the low end of people giving."

Owings Mills is the busiest volunteer fire company in the county. They average 2,100 fire calls and 1,600 ambulance calls a year.

The station receives some county subsidies, but most of its $400,000 operating budget comes from donations and fundraisers. Their final drive this year is the station's annual Christmas tree sale that started on Nov. 27.

"All of the money goes to pay for equipment," said volunteer firefighter David Burkholder. "Nobody making a penny here."

Franciotti said it takes far more than just penny's to keep this place running. It costs more than $300,000 to replace a pump truck and over $2,000 a month to pay the Baltimore Gas and Electric bill as the population in Owings Mills continues to grow.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the fire department's funds, click here .

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