A volunteer fire department in rural Pennsylvania has filed for bankruptcy to protect its main source of revenue –bingo games.
On July 1, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Madera Volunteer Fire Co. filed for bankruptcy on June 30, urging a judge to allow them to continue spending the cash necessary for fuel, propane, telephone services, insurance, the other necessary costs for running a business, and for hosting their regular bingo games, according to the bankruptcy court documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Johnstown, Pa.
The Madera Volunteer Fire Company is located in the small town of Madera, Bigler Township. The department provides the primary fire and rescue services to the Townships of Bigler and Knox, however, they also service the Borough of Glen Hope and parts of Beccaria, Boggs, Decatur, and Woodward Townships.
The Madera Volunteer Fire Company is 100% volunteer and its firefighters proudly provide service to approximately 15,000 people over 200 square miles. The MVFC has to rely on income from its fundraisers, auctions, community dinners, bingo games, and a bi-annual gun raffle held every March and September.
Unfortunately, the profit from all of these events was not enough to meet all of their obligations.
Earlier fire department leaders overspent on fire hall renovations, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In order to fund the improvements, the fire department obtained a loan in 2007 through the U.S. Department of Agricultural rural development program. To date, the fire department still owes in excess of $2 million on the loan.
Established in May of 1922, the Madera Volunteer Fire Company has been a fixture for nearly 100 years. The firefighters rely on a 1991 rescue vehicle, a brush truck and a 2004 engine tanker.
To stay afloat and get out of bankruptcy, the department’s fire officials plan on continuing their fundraising efforts. However, they are also considering diversification, and by this they mean hosting a few weddings.