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Farmington Collection Equals Big $$ For Institute
Farmington firefighters Barry Hickerson, left, and Matt Bailey greet a motorist stopped at the intersection of Highway 4 and Escalon Bellota Road on Saturday afternoon during the Fill The Boot fund drive.

Working the intersection of Highway 4 and Escalon-Bellota Road over the course of three days – about five hours each day – the end result was another $20,000 for the Firefighters Burn Institute.

Volunteers with the Farmington Fire Department manned the intersection on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 8 through 10, collecting donations from passing motorists in their turnout boots.

“Everyone is heading up to the snow,” said department assistant chief Matt Bailey on Saturday, noting the collection was going well.

Fire Chief Conni Bailey agreed that motorists were pleasant and most were in a giving mood, as the department raised over $5,200 alone on Friday, the first day of the weekend drive.

It had been held in previous years over longer four-day Presidents’ Day holiday weekend but Chief Bailey said it now can’t be done on a holiday so they chose the weekend before.

Eight to 10 volunteers did the bulk of the collecting, with more cash coming in on Saturday and Sunday. Volunteers spent their hours each day seeking the donations – which come primarily in $1 and $5 donations, with the occasional larger bill placed in the turnout boot.

“Friday we did it with five people,” Chief Bailey added.

She said the small department is also seeking new members and are also interested in getting more firefighters involved in a reserve program along the lines of those run by Linden and Ripon.

Under the program, said the chief, they volunteer with the department for one year and after that one year period is completed, they can hire on as a reserve firefighter. That provides a $25 per day stipend plus $10 per call. In the second year of being a reserve, the stipend increases to $50 per day and again includes the $10 per call payment.

And despite low numbers for the collection event in terms of manpower, Chief Bailey said there was no shortage of people to give. All the donations go to the Firefighters Burn Institute in Sacramento.

Since they started the effort in 1999, Farmington Fire Department has donated a total of $417,828.73 to the institute. The first year saw a $3,500 total raised while the largest ever collected was in 2016 over a four-day weekend, with more than $34,500 collected. They took a one-year break after that in 2017, but the last two years, 2018 and 2019, have both seen a donation of $20,000 collected.