Firefighters hold 1st annual spaghetti fundraiser

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MOSES LAKE - Grant County Fire District No. 5 successfully launched its first annual spaghetti feed fundraiser dinner Saturday, drawing in dozens of attendees in support of the volunteer firefighter association.

The fire district is one of the state’s largest, servicing fire and rescue missions for around 560 square miles of territory ranging from medical emergencies in urban outskirts of Moses Lake, rescuing a stranded boat from the surface of the reservoir and firefighting in the middle of the Grant County desert. Though Moses Lake has its own municipal fire department, the fire district surrounds the city and regularly provides support to it or other nearby fire districts.

To respond to an average of 1200 calls a year across their service area, the district maintains 12 fire stations, which are crewed by anywhere from 90 to 110 crew members, the vast majority of which are volunteers.

With swiftwater and rope teams for water or cliffside rescue, airboats for gliding over ice and a fleet of customized and house-built rigs suited for various situations, the district is uniquely capable to handle anything, said Patrick Hochstatter, a lieutenant and commissioner for the district. The district is thrifty, Hochstatter said, often jury-rigging older vehicles in the warehouse behind Fire Station 1 to meet their needs better and for half the cost of a newly bought truck.

When the team isn’t rushing to save someone suffering a stroke or to put out an electrical box engulfed in flames, the crew can sometimes be found reading to elementary school kids and giving lessons in fire safety, Hochstatter said.

The district’s team of volunteers, which make up around 85 percent of total manpower, require rigorous training in a number of disciplines in order to operate in such diverse environments with assorted equipment. Funds from Saturday’s dinner helps the association hold community events, provide gift cards to those who’ve lost homes to fires and to send volunteers to Fire Training Academy in North Bend, among other services, Hochstatter said.

In support of these activities, around 40 parents and their children came to Fire Station 1, which was marked by a fully-extended ladder truck decorated by balloons. After filling plates to overflowing with a mountain of spaghetti and side salad, gleeful children were hoisted up into fire engines to run the sirens and pump the horns.

All in all, Hochstatter said, the night was a success, and the district hopes to hold more spaghetti feeds in the coming years.

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