Dubin matches Cumberland Gap Fire Dept. GoFundMe with donation of over $6,000

Published 3:40 pm Thursday, May 30, 2024

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The Cumberland Gap Volunteer Fire Department is one step closer to getting a new fire truck thanks to a generous donation from Dr. Ronald Dubin of the Kentucky Orthopedic Clinic in Middlesboro.

Dubin saw where the department had started a GoFundMe page to raise matching funds for a grant they had applied for to get a new truck. He pledged to match every penny they raised in on-line donations and recently did just that, presenting the department with a check for over $6,000 giving them over $12,000 in matching funds.

“These are medical students that volunteer their time, they’re really dedicated kids. If there’s a fire the night before a test, they still go to fight it,” Dubin said. “They don’t even have a pumper that works right now so when they go to a fire they can’t bring water with them. It’s pretty hard to have a fire department without a pumper.”

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Cumberland Gap’s Fire Department is manned completely by students from LMU and has approximately 25 members.

The town’s mayor Neal Pucciarelli said most of them are from the DCOM program or the vet school and all of the chiefs since he has been mayor have come from the DCOM program.

“They have worked really hard over the years to increase the size of our fire department in numbers and to modernize the equipment that we have. Most of our stuff is out of date,“ Pucciarelli said. “It’s kind of like football equipment, it can only be used for so many years and then it has to be taken out of circulation. So they’ve worked hard to get equipment that is certified and up to current standards.”

He said a recurring problem for the department is that the fire trucks are in pretty bad shape.

“We had to retire a tanker that we had for years and then the truck we are currently using is from the 1980s and is constantly having mechanical issues,” Pucciarelli said. “We have tried for several years to apply for a grant to replace that truck. But the match for the grant is usually more than we can afford.”

The GoFundMe was started this spring when a new grant came available with a very low match.

“I think it’s something like a 13% match, so It was a really good opportunity for us to apply. In the meantime while we were completing the documentation and submitting the grant, we tried to start fundraising to meet the match,” he said. “The more money we could raise, the bigger the vehicle we could afford because the match would be covered by donations.”

It was at that time when Dr. Dubin, a longtime supporter of the department, heard about what was happening.

“Dr. Dubin owns several properties here in town and he called me one afternoon and said: ‘I heard you had a GoFundMe page for a fire truck.’” Pucciarelli recalled. “I told him we were trying to raise as much money as we could before the grant deadline. He said, ‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do, whatever you get from the GoFundMe page I’ll match dollar for dollar.’ 

“Two weeks ago he brought us a check for over $6,000. We had raised just over $6,000 through GoFundMe and he matched it with the exact same amount so we have over $12,000 available for the match with the grant so we can get a new fire truck.”

Now the town and the Fire Department are waiting to see if they receive the grant for a new truck.

“We’re waiting to hear what might happen, we’re hoping that we get the grant. I’ve reached out to Congressman Burchett and some other people to see if we can maybe get lucky and get a little influential support along the way,” Pucciarelli said.

In the event the department’s application is not funded, all money raised will go toward upgrading equipment needed to support the firefighters.