Equipping Firefighters, Empowering Communities

“Our whole community depends on our rural fire district,” says retired military nurse and Idaho resident, Barbara-Lee Jordan.

Jordan understands the threat of wildfires all too well. Just last fall, the Sunnyside Bench Complex fire encroached dangerously close to her neighborhood, forcing her to evacuate. Thanks to the relentless efforts of the all-volunteer firefighter team at the Sunnyside Rural Fire District, Jordan’s home, along with other local structures, were saved.

Since 1994, the community has relied on the Sunnyside Rural Fire District to save lives and protect homes threatened by wildfire. The immense impact of this small, volunteer-run team has not come without costs. Years of firefighting has taken a toll on the district’s personal protective equipment, some containing fire retardant that expired decades ago.

When Innovia awarded the district a $10,000 grant for fresh equipment, the Clearwater Valley Fire District Auxiliary launched a matching gift challenge to refresh the firefighting equipment at stations across the county.

An outpouring of community generosity ensued. A local artisan stitched a quilt to raffle and a local restaurant sold mugs designed by the auxiliary. A Guns vs. Hoses fundraiser hosted by the auxiliary pitted the local police and fire departments against each other in a bowling competition. Collectively, the community raised $4,000, enough to supply an additional five firefighting outfits.

“The community stepped forward,” says Jordan. “We appreciate what the firefighters do, and they appreciate our support.”

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