Thanks to generous support from sponsors and a successful golf tournament, the Highland Rotary Club has raised a substantial amount of money to aid the Highland Fire District in acquiring essential safety equipment.
The funds raised by the Rotary Club will be utilized by the Highland Fire District to procure bailout systems for firefighters. The bailout systems include Gemtor harnesses, which are connected to the center and enable controlled descent from a building during emergencies. The system also incorporates a 50 ft rope with a hook, allowing firefighters to bail through windows when trapped inside a structure. This safety measure was inspired by the tragic event known as Black Sunday, where firefighters found themselves stranded on higher floors, necessitating perilous jumps from several-story buildings to escape. Consequently, the “Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) Act” now mandates that all firefighters must carry a bailout system during fire-related operations. As the current bailout systems utilized by the Highland fire district are approaching the end of their shelf life after approximately a decade of service, this initiative comes as a timely and critical improvement.
In previous years, the Highland Rotary Club organized the Rib Fest as a fundraising event for both the police and fire departments. However, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rib Fest’s momentum has not been regained.
Instead, the Rotary Club has shifted its fundraising efforts to alternative events, such as a successful golf tournament, Super 25 raffle, and comedy clubs. This year’s golf tournament specifically aimed to raise funds for the fire department’s safety equipment needs. The idea for the golf tournament emerged from a Rotarian member, and the event garnered significant participation with 132 golfers.
Acknowledging the significance of this initiative, several sponsors, including JSP Home Services, Smiles of the Hudson Valley, M&T Bank, and others, came forward to support the Highland Fire District’s cause. The Rotary Club decided to direct its efforts towards the fire department after previously raising funds to equip police vehicles with cameras. Steve Laubach, the President of the Highland Rotary, expressed the club’s gratitude, stating, “We want to say thank you more than anything else; that’s why we chose the fire department this time, because we’ve already done something for the police previously.”
Remarkably, the Highland Rotary surpassed its initial fundraising target and collected $10,000 for safety equipment, a testament to the community’s willingness to contribute once the cause was made known.
As the President of the Rotary Club Laubach holds an impressive record, serving in this capacity for five terms since the club’s inception in 1984. He remains the only original member from the club’s founding who is still actively involved.
Chief Peter Miller, who has been involved in the Highland Fire Service for 50 years and has served as Chief for 25 of those years, leads the Highland Fire Department. Additionally, Chief Miller holds the position of facilities manager for the Highland School District.
The Highland Fire District operates as a taxable entity, utilizing tax revenue to procure necessary equipment to fulfill its responsibilities. Comprising dedicated volunteers, Highland Firefighters play a crucial role in supporting the district’s operations.
With the Highland Rotary’s generous contribution, the Highland Fire District is poised to enhance firefighter safety and operational efficiency through the acquisition of state-of-the-art bailout systems.