SEARSPORT, Maine — Volunteer firefighters are the kind of people who look out for each other, especially when dealing with stressful situations such as burning buildings.
Or a hairdresser with a busy set of clippers.
Earlier this month, during the small community’s annual Fling Into Fall celebration, the 14 members of the Searsport Volunteer Fire Department decided that they all wanted to do something to help the niece of one of the firefighters. The 30-year-old woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer and could use some financial help, Chief Andy Webster said recently, declining to share her name.
Before Fling Into Fall, a few of the firefighters had shaved their heads in solidarity with the woman.
Then they thought bigger. What if they turned the idea into a fundraiser? The results, Webster said, were tremendous.
On Friday, Oct. 11, hairdresser Rachel Leavitt of A Cut Above in Belfast set up shop at the Searsport firehouse, volunteering her skills to shave the heads of the guys and to put pink highlights in the locks of the firefighting ladies.
Everyone did it, the chief said. Even the guys who initially dragged their feet.
Dick Desmarais, a selectman from Searsport who helps the fire department with traffic control during emergencies, said that there was a good crowd watching as the firefighters took their turn in the chair.
“A couple of them said, ‘I’m not getting my hair cut.’ They were in their dating years,” the town official said of the younger volunteer firefighters. “But when the time came to do it, they stepped up.”
Some other community members who started out watching the action ended up joining in themselves. Altogether, donations for the impromptu fundraiser totaled more than $1,200, with the money immediately given to help the woman with cancer cover her expenses. The volunteer firefighters are considering doing this as an annual event to support a “breast cancer warrior” in the community.
“We had a lot of fun,” Webster said, adding that he thinks his newly shorn head is working for him, although maybe not as much for his wife. “I don’t mind it. I actually like it. Most people say it looks pretty good.”