News

McLean Volunteer Fire Department to upgrade ambulance with donation from home tours

The McLean Volunteer Fire Department is planning to replace one of its ambulances (courtesy MVFD)

The McLean Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) will soon get a new and improved ambulance, thanks in part to the success of a recent “Kitchen and Garden Tour.”

The Woman’s Club of McLean, a local charitable group, presented a check with the $13,000 raised by the tour to the fire department on Monday (June 19), fulfilling a promise that got deferred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think most of us have had the benefit of calling the fire department,” Women’s Club member Kay Burnell said, recalling one time when her husband got ill and collapsed. “…Most of us have had an experience with them where there’s a fire or an accident, so we just felt we needed to support them and say thank you to them.”

Organized by co-chairs Burnell, Karen Moore and Silke Soff, the Kitchen and Garden Tour on April 27 gave community members a chance to explore the kitchens and gardens of houses on Ballantrae Farm Drive and Countryside Court at Holyrood Drive.

The Woman’s Club, which was founded in 1958, had organized a kitchen and garden tour just once before to raise money for veteran housing at the retirement community Vinson Hall, according to Burnell. The concept was revived this year as an alternative to the usual Holiday Homes Tour fundraiser, which has been on hold during the pandemic.

The pandemic also delayed MVFD’s 100-year anniversary celebration, which got pushed from 2021 to 2022. The Woman’s Club had planned a fundraiser for the department in 2020 to support the festivities.

“Because of the pandemic we were unable to raise the money,” Burnell said. “This year we tried again and happily were able to make good on our promise of 2020.”

The change in timing turned out to be fortuitous for the fire department, which is looking to add a fire engine after acquiring the new ambulance.

With a total price tag of $335,000, the ambulance is expected to arrive later this summer or early fall, according to MVFD President Patricia Moynihan. The department also raised funds through donations, Christmas ornament sales and other activities, including taking out a loan.

Replacing one of the department’s two ambulances, the new vehicle will be a “state-of-the-art piece of apparatus,” Moynihan says.

“We’re super excited and I know the ladies have worked really hard on this, and so we’re really appreciative,” she told FFXnow.

According to MVFD Emergency Medical Services Captain Lynn Clancy, one of the biggest improvements will be the addition of a power load cot system.

“We are always looking to improve safety and this system will use mechanical lifting to move the stretcher into and out of the ambulance,” Clancy said. “It is safer for the EMT/Paramedics and the patients. Back injuries are the biggest career-ending injuries in EMS. Additionally, under our capital equipment replacement plan, it is time to replace one of the existing, heavily-used vehicles, which is becoming unreliable.”

The new engine will cost about $500,000, half of which will be covered by Fairfax County, Moynihan says. The volunteer fire department hasn’t started fundraising for its half of the costs yet, though the Woman’s Club likely won’t be as involved as it was for the ambulance.

According to Burnell, the organization typically gives equal amounts to the different charities it supports, so another big fundraiser for the MVFD isn’t in the works.

However, a repeat of the Kitchen and Garden Tour may be on the table for next year. After experiencing a decline during the pandemic, the Women’s Club has seen an uptick in members since this year’s tour, which Burnell says “was such a festive day and was so well-received.”

Those who miss the traditional Holiday Homes Tour, which saw volunteers decorate houses in McLean for participants to visit, can rest assured that the club feels the same way.

“We’ve done it for over 55 years. So, we’re very hopeful that we can do that,” Burnell said. “If we can’t, then probably we will do this kitchen garden tour as our main fundraiser.”

Photo courtesy MVFD