HARVARD -- The Harvard Firefighters Association is shifting into high gear for its two major fall fundraisers.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, the firefighters host the 3rd Annual Ken Harrod Memorial Bike Ride. This year there's a new 50-mile course atop the shorter routes open to all ability levels. In the days before Thanksgiving, the association hosts its popular turkey raffle at the central firehouse.
On Aug. 28, the Harvard Firefighters Association presented a $4,000 check to the Town of Harvard. The gift was given to help defray the cost of items purchased over the summer for the Harvard Fire Department.
The HFA contributed $2,000 towards the $9,600 cost for two new thermo-imaging cameras. Each camera cost $4,800.
The HFA gift covered a fifth of the cameras' purchase price. Annual Town Meeting on April 28 authorized $12,000 for the purchase of two cameras. The unspent municipal money will flow back into the general fund.
The state-of-the-art cameras are less expensive than the first-generation cameras that cost about $20,000 apiece in the late 1990s. The cameras are also much smaller in size, weighing just 1 pound versus 10 pounds.
The new cameras are light enough to be clipped onto the firefighters' turnout gear. The older cameras were hand-held.
The camera screen "shows the differences in temperature," in walls and in darkened space "so you can see the hotter areas versus the cold areas", said Fire Chief Richard Sicard.
Sometimes the firefighters are looking for hot spots in walls. Using the camera can cut down on the need to use axes to open walls to look for flames. "They allow us to do our job a lot more efficiently," said Sicard of the cameras.
The cameras also help locate people in buildings. Sicard flicked on the power and aimed the device at Town Administrator Tim Bragan.
Bragan's silhouette glowed on the screen. "If it was pitch-black in here and filled with smoke, this is exactly what the firefighter could see," said Sicard. "In the old days, we'd have to do a search along the wall which would take an extended amount of time."
The HFA also picked up $2,000 towards the $7,000 price tag for 30 new gear lockers, which were installed on Aug. 25 and 26 at the center fire station. Previously, there were hooks for gear, but much of the firefighters' equipment also laid on the floor, which exposed the gear to added wear and tear.
Now the helmets, bunker coats, pants, protective hoods, boots and gloves are neatly organized in red plastic-covered, heavy-duty wire lockers which line the walls across the rear walls of the fire station.
Town Meeting set aside $7,000 for the lockers through Warrant Article 6. The unspent town money will now flow back into the general fund for another municipal purpose thanks to the HFA gifting.
HFA Treasurer Bill Barton handed Bragan a $4,000 association check to help cover part of the locker and camera costs. For the first time this year, the association funded a $1,000 scholarship for a graduating Bromfield senior. The association has funded Student Awareness of Fire Education programming at the schools, and continues to serve as a source of benevolent gifting for the needs of firefighters and their families.
REGISTER NOW FOR 3rd ANNUAL KEN HARROD BIKE RIDE
This year, the association has added a 50-mile loop for those seeking a greater challenge while participating in the 3rd annual Ken Harrod Bike Ride set for Saturday, Sept. 22. The ride starts at 9 a.m. at the Harvard Fire Station at 13 Ayer Road.
The 50-mile loop will take bicyclists through Harvard, Littleton, Boxborough, Stow, Bolton, Berlin, Marlborough, Northborough, Boylston, Clinton, Lancaster and back to Harvard.
There will also be an 8- and 16-mile bike loop, and a shorter route for kids if there are sufficient entries. Registered riders can bike along any of the loops as many times as they may like. There will be t-shirts and gift bags available for the first 200 participants registered for the ride.
The registration fee is $25 in advance or $30 on the day of the event (with family discounts available when three or more preregister at the same time). All riders are encouraged to preregister online at harvardfire.com/bikeride.
Last year there were nearly 200 participants in the ride. The association hopes to outstrip that number this year. "We always want more," said Barton.
Donations can also be made to the association: Harvard Firefighters Association, P.O. Box 613, Harvard, MA 01451, Attn: Bill Barton, event treasurer.
Sicard was impressed with the association's generous gifting to the town towards the cameras and the gear lockers.
"You can't ask for more than that," said Sicard. "And getting the support from the townspeople was great. They voted to fully fund these items. But the association stepped up and decided to take some of the burden off of the taxpayers."