July brings the traditional date of the PVFD auction, a fundraiser which dates to the construction of the current firehouse c. 1971. Over the years the action has become a cherished community tradition. With this in mind, it is with regret that the PVFD announces we won’t be holding an auction in 2023.
In the heyday of the auction, it was not unusual for the department to bring in over 33% of our annual operating budget. In 2022, we had a great auction, with spirited bidding, high attendance, and generous donations. But we raised only 9% of our annual operating budget. Indeed, the auctions have yielded about the same proceeds year after year for decades now, while the costs our department incurs increase ceaselessly. This makes the auction a much less effective fundraiser than it was in the past. Meanwhile, generous responses to our annual appeal, increased town allotments, and good strategic planning have put our agency on a healthy financial footing, leaving us less reliant on staging fundraising events.
On the other side of this equation is our most precious resource, our volunteers. The auction asks our members to use their personally-owned vehicles to pick up donations throughout July, to set up the event, to staff the event, and then to clean up afterward. This takes several hundred person-hours. Looking back 20 years, our volunteers were asked to respond to about 30 emergencies and maybe 15 drills a year, and basic firefighter training was a 72-hour program. In 2022, we ran 59 emergency responses, the basic firefighter training class stands at 184 hours, and we conducted 38 drills and service calls. With each passing year, the auction is a more difficult ask of our volunteers.
So, where does this leave the auction? The PVFD recognizes that the auction is an event that brings great joy to the community, and brings the community together. We want to keep this going! To make that happen, we need to find a way that is sustainable for our agency, and not in competition with our mission to deliver outstanding emergency services. Got an idea for how to achieve this? Please reach out and let us know!
With thanks for your continued support,
The Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department