In hoping to ease the burden on families in the community while at the same time raise money for some of the equipment it needs, Fallston Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Company is hosting Food Truck Thursdays through the end of October.
Every Thursday, as many as five food trucks, a dessert truck and Independent Brewery will park themselves in the parking lot in front of the station on Carrs Mill Road from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. with offerings ranging from pizza to barbecue to crab cakes.
“We encourage a community affair because not only does it bring the community and their local fire and EMS department closer, it allows families and friends to not have a worry about cooking or preparing a meal after a long day at work,” said Susan Pafel, the administrative event coordinator for the fire company.
“This also allows the command staff and administrative staff of Fallston fire company the opportunity to engage the public in attempts to recruit and gain interest in joining a great organization.”
Food Truck Thursday began Aug. 8 and, so far, Pafel said the response has been great.
“We’ve had huge crowds, several hundred people each time,” she said.
While the trucks are ready to sell food by 4:30, the crowds don’t really arrive until between 5:30 and 6 p.m., once people have gotten home from work, she said.
The fire company wanted to do something different for its fundraising and thought the food truck night would be a good idea, especially since no one else in the county does it.
The trucks, except the dessert truck, make a $100 donation to the fire company to be there, which the fire company will use to buy safety equipment for the men and women of the fire company. The dessert truck donates a percentage of its proceeds, Pafel said.
“With the increasing number of cancer-related illnesses across the nation related to the job tasks we perform, we must make protecting our personnel a priority,” Pafel said. “The increasing cost of firefighter gear and equipment is significantly cheaper than long-term treatment.”
The relationship between fire departments and their respective communities is a critical alliance, she said. Both need each other’s support.
“Here at Fallston Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Company, we are fortunate to have such a supportive community to serve and more importantly a great county that cares about emergency services and those who keep them safe,” Pafel said.
Many people bring blankets and chairs and wheel up their children in wagons, often walking from the nearby neighborhoods in Fallston.
Besides grabbing dinner, visitors can tour the firehouse, check out the equipment — a new ambulance and fire truck — and gear, take ride in one of the trucks and sit and listen to music each week.
“We want people to come out and know we’re more than just flyers in the mail,” Assistant Chief Daniel McKinney said. “They can meet the volunteers, tour the station, see where their money is going."
Fire company member and musician Jon Acker was playing in the parking lot last Thursday. His young daughters were with him, too.
“We want the community to know that here, we are all volunteers,” Acker said. "They drive by it every day and we want people to see what we’re all about.”
While many fire company members attend Food Truck Thursday, the community turns out, too.
Gary and Jackie Gray of Fallston met their son and daughter-in-law, Tim and Jeanette Gray, and their children, Lily, 5, and Hunter, 8 months, who live in Forest Hill, for dinner at the fire house on Thursday evening.
“We can do something as a family,” Jackie Gray said.
On Thursday, dinner was from Triple Js and Crossroads Bistro, the week before, it was pizza from Brick-n-Fire Pizza.
“Whatever spokes our interested and whatever sounds good” is how they pick their dinner, Jeannette said.
“It’s a great fundraiser, something really fun to do on a Thursday night,” she said, adding there’s nothing like it regularly in Harford County.
“And it’s for the community,” Gary added.
Tim and Sarah Minderlein of Baldwin have been to all three Food Truck Thursdays thus far.
“It’s fun, and nice to support the local community,” Sarah Minderlein said.
They had an issue with carbon monoxide in their house and the Fallston fire company came and helped.
“It’s nice to be able to give back to them,” Tim Minderlein said.
They had crab fries, then were going for pork tacos and dessert.
“We want to try every one,” Tim Minderlein said.
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John and Trish Reichart were visiting Food Truck Thursdays for the first time last week.
“I think this is a good idea. It brings everybody out, together,” Trish Reichart said.
For the food truck owners, the evening is a good spot, and for them, it’s a way to give back to the fire company.
“My husband and myself, we’ve always been very community oriented,” Nicole Youse, president of the Maryland Mobile Food Vendors Association and owner of Crossroads Bistro, said. “We like supporting the community; this is an awesome way to do it — we’re donated to the fire department and doing something we love."