Kim and Lynda Alfreds have a burning desire to make a difference in their new home of Belcarra.
The West Vancouver natives, who moved to the village north of Port Moody two years ago from Whistler, watched from their waterfront home in April as two unoccupied houses, on Turtlehead Road, burned to the ground.
They could see the flames, from the other side of the peninsula, shoot up 300 feet and how the volunteer firefighters in the forested community were trying to prevent the trees from catching fire.
Last year, the pair made three donations to the Sasamat Volunteer Fire Department, a 45-member team (and one of the largest of its kind in B.C.) that serves Anmore and Belcarra: an anonymous cash contribution; the winning proceeds of a 60/40 draw, held at a village picnic at Belcarra regional park; and fire gear Kim Alfreds had stored on his former yacht that he used as a licensed ship's captain for fire training.
Now, the Alfreds are challenging their neighbours to help with the fire department's $170,000 fundraiser to purchase new — and lighter — self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that will synch with the professional department in PoMo.
This month only — as "November is national gratitude month," Kim Alfreds said — the pair is asking residents in the 33 households on their street of Belcarra Bay Road to top up the fund, which is about $65,000 shy of its goal.
And money brought in as part of the Alfreds' challenge will be matched by the family — in its entirety. "I've been noticing the needle hasn't moved much this year," he said of the SVFD drive, "so I'm hoping this will change that."
So far, their challenge — which SVFD announced Nov. 4 via Twitter — has generated $500; however, they're confident more will come in for the cause.
The Alfreds also hope their street challenge will spark others in Belcarra, which has 230 homes, and in Anmore, which has a population of around 2,500 residents.
Neil Belenkie, a SVFD firefighter and a fundraising organizer, praised the couple for their initiative. "We don't take for granted how fortunate our fire department is to have support like from the Alfreds," he said. "Our success in raising the funds required for this life-saving equipment relies on our communities. We are surrounded by fantastic people."
Last year, SVFD was called out 110 times for fires (31), medical emergencies (58), motor vehicle incidents (10) and other responses (11) in Belcarra and Anmore as well as its popular parks (i.e., Belcarra regional park and Buntzen Lake park).
• To make a donation to the Sasamat Volunteer Fire Department, go to svfd.ca. Qualifying business and individual donations will get a tax receipt.