EAST PALESTINE - The East Palestine Firefighter Association is spearheading an effort to raise funds for this year's Fourth of July fireworks celebration, upon the request of the Chamber of Commerce.
Fire Chief Brett Todd and Association President Rick Gorby said the Chamber only recently asked the association to take over the effort it has been responsible for.
In fact, the Chamber already ordered the fireworks through FNV Fireworks of Enon Valley, Pa., and Gorby said all that is left now is roughly $5,000 to cover the cost.
Chamber President Don Elzer could not be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday evening.
Association Treasurer John Jurjavcic said the association raised $1,500 for the fireworks during the street fair last month.
This is the first time the association is raising funds for anything other than equipment for the fire department, Todd noted.
Had the association not agreed to raising the funds the fireworks display may not have been a possibility, the men said.
"Our members really didn't want us to not have fireworks," Todd said.
The department has provided safety for the fireworks each year, and will do that again this year, with a small crew and some engines on standby not far from the launch site in Village Park.
"There have been fireworks in East Palestine for years," Gorby said.
The fireworks are scheduled for 10 p.m. July 4 and will close out that day's festivities.
The roughly 25-member association was formed in the 1950s and over the last five years alone has purchased about 90 percent of the additional equipment featured on its trucks that is not covered by village funding.
"The actual mission is to support the fire department and its members above and beyond what the city provides," Todd explained.
Some of that equipment is the hydraulic extrication tools now featured on one truck that cost around $12,000, a portable generator and two lights, compartment organizers, a portable hydraulic rescue pump and two rams and two stair chairs for its ambulances.
In all, the association has spent close to $30,000 on equipment alone over the last five years, and that funding is made possible through its annual golf outing and parking cars during Christmas in the Woods, they said.
"The residents of the village of East Palestine support us very much," Gorby said.
The association has complete control of its funding, and members have a say in how it is spent, Todd said.
He added the department is attempting to raise the funds for fireworks without that effort interfering with any of the association's own efforts.
Anyone interested in donating for the fireworks should call Gorby at 330-853-9275, or make checks payable to the East Palestine Firefighter Association, and mail to 67 E. Clark St., East Palestine, 44413.
Firefighters will also be requesting fireworks donations through a boot drive on July 4 at the entrance to Village Park.
"It's a community project so the community should support it," Jurjavcic said.