Fish Feasts Reel In Big Funds for VFDs

For the Stone Church Volunteer Fire Department, Friday fish fries not only raise thousands of dollars for the department, but allow the community to get to know their first responders before a possible disaster strikes.

Jerry Kulpa, Stone Church emergency medical technician and firefighter, said fish fries held during the Lenten season and other food-related fundraisers garner about $5,000 to $7,000 for the department annually. Such fundraisers are important to a department already running on a “shoestring budget,” he said.

For example, batteries alone for equipment such as air packs costs $200 to $300 every couple months.

“It all adds up,” he said.

When people come to eat they also get the chance to visit with and get to know their firefighters. Stone Church’s fish fries are held 4-7 p.m. Fridays.

“Before they have a bad disaster they can see the people who will respond,” Kulpa said.

Sometimes they even get a new recruit.

“As a volunteer and EMT driver, I get calls 24/7 and I work a full-time job. I have the same training as city firemen,” Kulpa said, noting he works as an Ohio County dispatcher. “It takes a special person to be a volunteer.”

Kulpa said his wife and son also are involved with the department.

“The fire department is like a close-knit family at times. … My son, who is 17, instead of standing on the street corner, he helps mop the floors. He’s helped us since he was 14. He helps instead of getting into mischief,” Kulpa said.