Community invited to fire department July Fourth pancake breakfast

Money raised helps Graafschap Fire Department.
People enjoy the Graafschap Fire Department Pancake Breakfast last summer at the fire station, 4534 60th St. This year’s event is 6-10 a.m. Tuesday, July 4.

The Graafschap Fire Department wants everyone to have a great time at the traditional July Fourth Pancake Breakfast, but along with the pancakes, sausage, orange juice, milk and coffee, the firefighters want you to think about the future of the department.

The pancake breakfast is 6 to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 4, at the fire station, 4534 60th St.

Organizers are asking for a $6 donation for adults and $3 donation for children.

Staffing needs

“We’re looking ahead to the future staffing needs of the department,” said Chief Doug DenBleyker. “We are past the point of needing more firefighters and have been trying for several years to increase the number of paid-on-call staff with little success.”

The pandemic reset people’s lives and changed the way they look at their time and how they spend it.

“We are trying to hold on as long as possible utilizing paid-on-call firefighters to provide the services the public expects, but the time is drawing near where we will need to add more full-time staff if paid-on-call numbers do not increase,” he said.

Staffing has dropped over the years – from a recent high of 24 people in 2018 to 15 firefighters today — while calls have increased from 375 in 2012 to 894 in 2022.

At this year’s Pancake Breakfast, the fire department is mixing in a little sample of the firefighter job with the flapjacks and syrup in hopes of getting more recruits.

“During this year’s breakfast we plan to share the benefits, pay and other perks of the job on information posters around the station,” he said.

Firefighters serve pancakes and sausages at last year’s Graafschap Fire Department Pancake Breakfast at the fire station, 4534 60th St. This year’s event is 6-10 a.m. Tuesday, July 4.

Helping out

The Pancake Breakfast started in 1968 as a way for the Graafschap Civic Club to raise money for a ball field. The fire department took over organizing and running the breakfast in 1991.

“The event is for the people; it is their fire department. The breakfast is a great way for us to showcase the equipment they have purchased for us to use to protect their lives and property,” said DenBleyker. “The event is also a great way for the residents to build relationships with the firefighters in a non-emergency situation.”

Last year’s event drew 1,406 people and raised about $7,400. In 2021, the event brought in 850 people and raised $4,679.

In the past, the money raised has helped pay for furniture and kitchen appliances at the station and apparel and equipment for the firefighters. It has also been donated to area charities including Hungry for Christ, Shields of Hope, Girls on the Run, Firefighter Cancer Support Network, Tunnel to Towers and The Kids Burn Camp.

Graafschap Fire Department services all of Laketown Township and the western half of Fillmore Township.