For more than 60 years, Moneta Volunteer Fire Department has served Smith Mountain Lake and surrounding communities. In that time, firefighters who volunteer their time have saved countless lives.
The department was formed in 1956 with the help of the Moneta Ruritan Club. The firehouse was originally located in old downtown Moneta, near Lake Christian Ministries, before moving to its current location in 2000.
The funding necessary to continue operating the department comes mostly from the community it serves with Bedford County providing only a portion of that budget.
“Bedford County supplies 25% to 30% of our budget,” said Moneta Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jeremiah Calhoun. “That translates to about $100 per call. Our No. 1 source is fundraising, and fund drive letters and community support to help us continue to build the department and meet the growing needs of the area and update with new equipment.”
In addition to purchasing new vehicles, the department also has to purchase new equipment regularly. Turnout gear for a firefighter costs just over $10,000, Calhoun said.
The department sends out fund drive letters to the community each year with about 8% of those coming back in donations, Calhoun said.
The department’s annual FireWorx Fest is its biggest annual fundraiser. While this year’s event on June 29 raised more than $27,000, it’s actually a fraction of the department’s yearly $140,000 budget.
“So, we’re pinching pennies to make building payments, keep the lights on and payments on trucks,” Calhoun said.
The department recently used some of its funds to purchase a tanker truck. “We were very lucky to get that truck,” Calhoun said.
Bedford County allocated $125,000 for the truck — the county provides funds for fire departments on a rotation every few years. The department sold its old tanker to a fire department in West Virginia for $165,000. Between selling that truck and the funding from the county, Calhoun said his department spent approximately $25,000.
Within the next year, the department plans to replace its fire engine, which has been in service for more than 20 years. “We are working on that now,” Calhoun said. “We’ll be getting $266,000 from the county. A baseline engine can start $450,000 to $500,000 non-equipped. Then we have to put all the equipment on it.”
Fundraisers like Chuck Horner’s “No Skin Exposed Walk” help raise money to keep the department going.
On Sept. 1, Horner and fellow firefighter Lisa Iannuzzi, will don all their firefighting gear and walk a 13-mile course to raise money. The walk was originally scheduled for June, but the department was unable to garner enough support.
“I think with the timing summertime beginning, school getting out and preparing for our fireworks festival we decided to reschedule it for labor day weekend,” Horner said.
The walk got its name, “No Skin Exposed Walk” because when firefighters wear their gear, no skin should be exposed.
“We are 100% covered,” Horner said. “A thousand dollars is still our goal. If I can get $4,000 or more, I will continue to walk an additional 13 miles for a full marathon. All the money we receive will be split between the Fallen Firefighters Foundation Bedford County Chapter and the Moneta Volunteer Fire Department.”
Anyone interested in donating to Moneta Volunteer Fire Department or supporting Horner and Iannuzzi in their fundraising walk, can send a check or donate at monetafire.com.