By Paul Silverfarb
The members of the Byram Volunteer Fire Department, without hesitation, head out to whatever dangers are in the Byram community. They’re always there to lend the district a helping hand.
Now the BVFD is looking for Byram and the surrounding communities to lend them a hand, as they are in need of some assistance.
One of the vehicles used by the Byram Volunteer Fire Department, Utility 3, has been sidelined with a blown head gasket. To repair the vehicle, the BVFD will need to pay anywhere between $5,000 to $6,000 to get the truck back on the road and helping the Byram community.
So on June 27-28, the fire company will hold a boot drive in front of the fire station, located on 266 Delavan Ave., in an attempt to raise some much-needed funds.
Byram Volunteer Fire Department Chief David Walko said that the funding in there to get the truck fixed, which is currently taking place. However, the repairs to Utility 3 will deplete a large majority of funds that the fire department has in their saving accounts as a company.
“It’s going to take a big chunk of our monies that we have in the department,” Walko said. “That leaves us very little to continue our regular operations. That’s the reason for us trying to get out there and do the boot drive.”
The vehicle in need of repair was originally purchased through the Department of Housing and Urban Development fund and is used primarily for the resident of Byram. Obviously, being a part of the Greenwich Fire Department, the vehicle is also used to assist in any way that it can throughout Greenwich.
“Being a smaller community and not being able to fundraise like some of our other volunteer memberships in the Town of Greenwich, we were able to get that truck in the early 90’s from HUD,” said Walko.
While the ideal goal for the boot drive and donations for the Byram Volunteer Fire Department is to recoup the spending right now, raising more than the cost of the replaced vehicle part would be a massive bonus that is greatly appreciated.
“If we can raise above and beyond and continue to better equip the vehicles and the personnel so we can provide a better and more effective service, that would be amazing. That’s the goal,” Walko said.”
The money that was taken for fixing the blown head gasket on Utility 3 is normally used for some of the uniforms and training. The money also goes towards small pieces of equipment, as well as the maintenance of the vehicles that aren’t Town-owned. Utility 3 was purchased through HUD and Squad 3 was a donation from the Hose and Chemical Company at headquarters. As they lost some of their membership, that truck was donated to Byram. However, all of the maintenance and care of those vehicles are on the Byram Volunteer Fire Department.
“The Town doesn’t have an infinite supply of money where we can always go into and get,” Walko said. “Whatever pieces the Town can’t provide is where we use our money for. Thankfully we have a great working relationship with the fleet department in town and they have helped out whenever they can. However, the work on Utility 3 is a much bigger job and that’s why we have to outsource it and bring it to a different mechanic.”
Walko stated that Utility 3 is a vital truck in the Byram Volunteer Fire Department’s repertoire. About half of the department’s members are the fire police, which controls traffic.
“They are not in the hot zones for our fire police in Byram,” Walko said. “The majority of my members in the fire police and they are the ones that close down the roads, help and support the fire fighters on the scene and make sure that scene stays safe. Those are the members that use Utility 3 versus the squad and the other fire equipment. This truck has pumps on it if we need to pump out a basement or those kinds of operations and help the community in that way. That vehicle also helps out in a big way during flooding. This vehicle plays a vital role in firefighting.
Despite all the work it takes to make sure everything is working correctly with the equipment, Walko couldn’t love his job any more as Chief in Byram.
“I really hope and pray that nobody in the community of Byram or the Town need our service,” Walko said. “We are seeing people on their worst day. For anybody that is a first responder, either as a volunteer or as a career, it’s just lending that hand. For us it’s our neighbors. Just knowing that we are the individuals that live next door who just want to lend a hand is the real calling.”
While the boot drive will take place in front of the Byram Volunteer Fire Department, people can donate funds on the department’s website at ByramVolunteerFireDepartment.org. On the top of the site is a tab to donate.