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Banner Elk Fire Department Gets Rescue Equipment Thanks to Community Fundraiser

Volunteer Firefighters Javier Marquez, Jose Salazar, Erik Burr, and John-Henry Barwick with the rescue equipment.

Banner Elk, NC – After months of planning and fabrication, Banner Elk Fire Rescue received the new mountain rescue equipment that was funded by the community fundraiser at Banner Elk Presbyterian Church in August 2022. During the three performances of the musical “Always Nina”, the audiences donated more than $8,000. The much-needed tools for the volunteer firefighters include a rescue basket and an extensive twin tension rope system kit.

“The funds raised during the three show performances are an investment towards saving lives and protecting our fellow citizens,” says Fire Chief Tyler Burr. “Not only will we be able to use this equipment during mountain rescue calls, but during public events, medical calls, car accidents, and many more applications.”

Trainer Erik Burr demonstrates the twin tension rope system.

The volunteer firefighters have already begun using the new equipment during their weekly training. The rescue basket (or litter) allows firefighters to securely move people from any situation with obstacles, such as confined spaces, vehicle accidents or remote areas including hiking trails. The twin tension system is one of the methods they use for rope rescue.

“Everything performed in rescue is typically done with two ropes: one main working rope and a backup belay rope,” Burr explains. “We have adopted the technique of using both lines in unison, producing efficiency and reduction in shock loading the system. The Harken Clutch is the main device we use for this system. The clutch provides tremendous efficiency when hauling the rope and total control while lowering the rope, and it drastically increases safety by providing anti-panic features.”

The August fundraiser featured Nina Allbert, Choral Director at Banner Elk Presbyterian, telling and singing hilarious and heart touching stories from her life. It received rave reviews from audiences with plenty of laughter, tears and standing ovations at each show.

The Banner Elk Fire District includes the towns of Banner Elk and Sugar Mountain, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods in Avery County. For more information about them, including how to become a volunteer firefighter, go to www.BannerElkFire.org.