Firefighters Tend Bar for a Cause

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Chagrin Valley Times

The firefighter’s job is to rescue people, pets and property, but on Friday, members of the Chagrin Falls department will be on the job to save their own fire station as they work for tips as celebrity bartenders at M Italian and Burntwood Tavern.

All gratuities collected from 5 to 10 p.m. event and the online “virtual tip jar” will be donated toward much needed fire station improvements.

Chagrin Falls Fire Chief Frank Zugan promised that he and his team of firefighters will put on their best bartenders’ charm to help raise the remaining $350,000.

A fingers-crossed groundbreaking date will be sometime in late June, he added.

Donors are asked to visit www.crowdrise.com/cffd-bartending to support the effort by selecting a firefighter/bartender they wish to tip, make a tax deductible gift in his or her name and join them for a libation at the restaurant to which they are assigned. The firefighters and the times they will be at which restaurant will be posted on the website before Friday.

In addition, a number of community personalities, retired firemen and other notables – including past and current mayors of the department’s coverage communities – have added their names to the cause and will be seeking fire station donations.

The fire department is operated by the Chagrin Falls Suburban Volunteer Firemen’s Association, a nonprofit corporation providing 24-hour, 365-days a year fire protection and emergency medical services to residents and businesses in the villages of Bentleyville, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, South Russell, Chagrin Falls and Chagrin Falls Township.

Partnering toward the goal is local businessman and restaurateur Bret Adams and his Chef Art Pour Restaurant Group.

“It is our obligation, and we welcome the opportunity to pay it forward in the community in which we work and live and give back to our fire department which was there supporting us from the start,” Mr. Adams said in a news release announcing the group’s participation.

According to Chief Zugan the fire station “is in desperate need of a renovation, and we greatly appreciate the fine people at M Italian and Burntwood Tavern for volunteering to host a fundraiser on our behalf.

“I have no doubt the event will be a success and take a large chunk of the funding goal.”

The fire station upgrade project is separated into three phases. The first is a police and fire department wellness center in the basement of the Shute Building next door to the fire station.

The $100,000 cost of the first phase was funded entirely by Chagrin Falls Township resident John Lennon.

The second phase is a two-story addition that will include women’s dormitories and bathroom, locker room, a new kitchen, upgraded training room, storage areas and a faster access way to the apparatus bays.

Third phase is an additional apparatus bay to be built between the fire station and Shute Building. It will house department vehicles currently stored outdoors year around.

Total cost for the second and third phase is approximately $700,000. The suburban firemen’s corporation has given $200,000 from its own funds. In addition to loaning his restaurants to the celebrity bartenders for the evening,

“As of today (March 5) we have currently raised another $175,000 towards our goal leaving $325,000 remaining,” Chief Zugan noted.

“I’m pretty confident we’ll have enough money for the second phase and ready to go out to bid hopefully in the next few weeks so that would put our groundbreaking sometime in the beginning of June.”

Mr. Adams and his wife Michelle have personally donated $20,000 to the department and at press time, the crowdrise donation site had nearly matched that figure.

Funding for the new apparatus bay is ongoing at this time, the chief noted.

“The additional bay start is uncertain so I would hate to set a specific date because we accept donations year-round since we’re nonprofit.”

For added convenience, a trolley will be available to shuttle patrons between Burntwood and M Italian restaurants.