East Olympia firefighters fight empty stomachs

rboone@theolympian.comApril 28, 2014 

The firefighters at East Olympia Fire Station 64 had their hands full Sunday, battling hungry stomachs to ensure almost 600 people got enough pancakes, sausages, ham, hash browns and eggs to eat.

Sunday was the 28th annual Firefighter’s Breakfast, a community event that benefits the Thurston County Fire District 6 Firefighters Association.

Adults paid $6 for an all-you-can-eat ticket. Children paid $3.

The association typically raises about $4,000 from the breakfast, and that money is put to use throughout the year, said Jerry Smiley, a volunteer firefighter and EMT at Station 64. Smiley has organized the event the past four years.

Smiley said the money is used to put on a safe Halloween event for children at Station 61, help needy families during Christmas and purchase backpacks and supplies for children. A banquet is held at the end of the year for volunteer firefighters and their families, he said.

But Sunday was about filling stomachs and opening the station to the public.

Lines started to form about 7 a.m., and traffic was steady up until about noon.

By about 11:30 a.m., 551 people had been served – a record for the breakfast, he said.

To accommodate everyone, the firetrucks were moved outside so tables could be set up inside the station.

It was an all-you-can eat affair, with demand so high they had to dash out to get more sausages and eggs, Smiley said.

But the trucks were put to good use, too, as they were available for children and adults to examine.

Gil Carbone of Olympia was one of the many stuffing his face with pancakes. Asked how the food was, Carbone gave it a thumbs up, while his wife, Phyllis, added that her husband was eating his third pancake.

Meanwhile, East Olympia Fire District 6 Chief Melvin Low also was on hand. After 35 years with the district, he is set to retire May 31, he said.

Low said Sunday’s event used to be known as the Fisherman’s Breakfast because the day used to coincide with the opening day of fishing season. But opening day was moved to a Saturday, so they rechristened the event, he said.

In the days of the Fisherman’s Breakfast, the parking lot might have filled with boats and trailers, but the number of attendees was lower – about 300, he said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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