The High Banks Volunteer Fire Service (HBVFS) is hosting its 3rd Annual Bike-A-Thon Fundraiser on Feb. 12. The course extends for 30 miles from the HBVFS Fire House in Bahama Palm Shores to the Regatta beach site in Sandy Point.
The event promptly begins at 8 a.m. with a briefing, and the race will commence at 8:30 a.m. – taking the riders three hours to complete.
According to HBVFS Fire Chief Bruce Smith, the bike-a-thon is the main fundraising event for the community, and over the years, it has proven to be successful.
“The bike-a-thon is a fun event, and it’s something different to do in the south,” he said. “It’s a good challenge for the participants.”
Smith explained that funds raised from the event assist with the maintenance and upkeep of firefighting facilities. Last year, there was a total of 22 riders participating in the bike-a-thon with the oldest competitor topping off at 70 plus years.
Participants in the bike-a-thon are encouraged to ask their family, friends and well-wishers to sponsor each mile they ride. Riders are given the option to ride a portion of the distance or the entire distance, and they can form a relay team to complete the course. At the end of the bike-a-thon, bicycles are transported to HBVFS/Bahama Palm Shores.
An Appreciation and Awards Luncheon will be held at the High Banks Volunteer Fire House at 12:30 p.m. For those attending the luncheon, the tickets are available for $20 each.
“Sixty lunches were served at last year’s luncheon,” Smith recalled.
HBVFS T-shirts are also on sale for $22, and interested persons are asked to contact Anita Knowles to submit their pledge amount for the fundraiser on or before Feb. 10.
For more information on sign up, sponsor sheets or luncheon tickets for the HBVFS Fire House, contact Bruce Smith, Lauren Riviere, Anita Knowles, Lavonda Smith or Melanie Rees. Donations can also be made and sent to the High Banks Volunteer Fire Service’s P.O. Box AB20744, Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas.
Brief history of High Banks Volunteer Fire Service
After an extensive fire raged through the community in 2004, Rex Albury held a meeting in Casuarina Point for those interested in firefighting.
Bruce Smith, who had recently relocated from Nassau, attended the meeting.
Based on the interest of those in attendance, Albury and Brother Bob Cornea donated “Ole Mo,” a 1970 Chevy truck equipped with a 1,200-gallon tank to Bahama Palm Shores courtesy of the Marsh Harbour Fire Department. “Ole Mo” served the community well despite having starting and brake issues. However, it wasn’t long before a replacement truck was needed.
Smith searched for a replacement online, and he also spoke with Collin Albury, fire chief of Treasure Cay Fire and Rescue, while carrying out his search. Collin told Smith about a 1985 Ford F800 Tanker with an 1,800-gallon tank that was located in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.
Over the next few years, the community acquired the Ford Tanker along with hoses and other fire equipment that were generously donated by Treasure Cay, Marsh Harbour and Casuarina Fire Departments. In preparation for the construction of their fire house, the High Banks Volunteer Fire Service was established in 2008, and an account was opened at FirstCaribbean Bank.
With the assistance of Lauren Riviere of Riviere and Associates, an acre of land was leased to the community of Bahama Palm Shores community to build a fire house in April of 2009. The community again rallied together to ensure the building of the fire house, but first the design of the building was drawn up by Art Capling, a longtime Bahama Palm Shores resident. Ground was broken in October 2009 through the generous donations of time, funds and materials and the construction of the fire house began.
For the past several years, High Banks volunteers and the Ford Tanker have fought numerous bush and structural fires from Marsh Harbour in the north, to Sandy Point in the south.
Most recently, an automatic weather station from the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USDA Forest Service) was donated to the HBVFS in November 2016. The station records temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction and rainfall.
This real-time weather information is accessible through the Weather Underground website under the name High Banks Fire Station. HBVFS volunteers hope to purchase a Backboard and Rescue Litter (stretcher) to add to its emergency equipment.