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Fire Ball Auction Takes Bids on Firefighters and EMTs

Vienna Volunteer Fire Department hosts live and silent auctions on March 21.

Here’s an opportunity to win a group dinner "date" with a Vienna Volunteer Fire Department EMT or firefighter, as well as a diversity of prizes. On Friday, March 21, the VVFD holds a live auction featuring bids on the department’s emergency responders and a silent auction for prizes donated by area businesses, from restaurants, spa treatments and vacation rentals to services and jewelry. Twelve firefighters and EMTs will be auctioned off and bids start at $40. The auctions begin at 7 p.m.

There is no charge for admission and VVFD invites the public to participate in the fundraiser. Free appetizers and soft drinks are served and wine and beer are available for purchase. Dress is casual.

" … We fundraise to pay our current mortgage, fund major building renovations and the purchase of emergency vehicles for the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department," said VVFD outreach coordinator, Judi Medwedeff. "Our volunteer organization owns our building, the land and all the emergency vehicles. Fundraising allows us to carry out our mission, all the while saving taxpayers money."

THE GROUP "DATE" is on the following evening, March 22, and includes a VIP tour of the fire station and a sit-down dinner at Westwood Country Club. The gathering of highest-bidders and their emergency responder prizes begins at 6:30 p.m. at the fire station.

Emily Patrick, James Estep, Mike Spatter, Adam Searle, Lauren Kovacic, Stephen Baldassari, Hanna Mitchell, Jeff Snow, Sean Europe, Kasey Jamison, Lauren Colon and Nick Stern are the 12 firefighters and EMTs on the auction block.

Emily Patrick, a newly-certified EMT, joined the VVFD after graduation from George Mason University with a chemistry degree. She says the fire department is a social outlet. "Even when I’m there, I’m having fun," Patrick said. The 22-year-old trains for fitness and will be working as a rafting guide this summer in Montana for three months.

"My partnership with the VVFD makes me feel more connected with the community that I live in," said Patrick. "Also, my association with the VVFD is great for me as a young person, because it instills a great personal responsibility for myself, and my actions, in respect to others."

James Estep volunteered in the emergency room of Inova Fairfax Hospital in 2005, where he got his first exposure to emergency medicine. He joined the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department about seven years ago, because, "I wanted to get involved in the community," Estep said. When he’s not saving lives or working as a professional commercial lender, Estep enjoys running, boating, relaxing at the beach and watching his Virginia Tech Hokies play football. He’s 34 years old.

"I get a personal sense of pride and accomplishment when I volunteer," said EMT Mike Spatter, a soldier stationed at Ft. Belvoir and living in Reston. Spatter, in EMT training at the County’s fire academy presently, says he enjoys a sense of family and teamwork at the VVFD.

"Being in the military, I served my country for 14 years," he said. "Now, I feel I should serve my community."

Adam Searle is another VVFD EMT up for auction who is attending fire school. He volunteered as an emergency responder while in the UK and resumed his volunteer career in Vienna. Searle participated in the fireball auction last year to help the department raise money and put its name out in the community. Searle said he enjoys helping people and practicing as an EMT is a "good change of pace from his other job," that of a financial adviser. Searle, too, feels that the VVFD is a bit of a social outlet. He also enjoys traveling and outdoor activities, such as hiking and golf. As to his commitment to the fire department, Searle said, "It’s exciting. You never know what call will be coming through next."

Lauren Kovacic, an EMT with the VVFD for seven years, works as a neonatal ICU nurse at Inova Fairfax Hospital. She joined the VVFD as a 16-year-old. She said she loves being with friends, going to the pool and on vacation. Kovacic said she has gotten many opportunities through VVFD. She received scholarships from the Virginia Fire-EMS association and the Virginia State Firefighters’ Auxiliary to go to nursing school. "I love what I do."

Firefighter/Emt Stephen Baldassari has volunteered with the VVFD for three and a half years now. He works full-time for a political affairs database company in Northern Virginia but plans on a graduate certificate in Emergency Management and Homeland Security at George Mason. He calls the VVFD his most important hobby. "I like helping people, being part of the community," said 26-year-old Baldassari.

Besides the fire department, Baldassari is passionate about travel, and he keeps a world map on his wall. "I love traveling," he said. "I put pins where I’ve been. I don’t put a pin where I want to go because I want to go wherever there’s not a pin."

Eighteen-year-old Hanna Mitchell, VVFD EMT for two years, thought up the idea of a firefighter auction fundraiser last year. Yes, she did become an EMT while a 16-year-old student at James Madison High School. She became interested in medicine when her grandfather was hospitalized.

"I like being able to help people and it’s [VVFD] a really good community to be around," Mitchell said.

She was on the recruitment committee during the winter/spring school year and this is how she described volunteering as an EMT as a high school student.

"It’s manageable if it’s one of your top priorities," she said. "You need to have good time management skills and you need to go in with a good heart and a good purpose."

A week before the auction, the VVFD Fire Ball Auction had more than 40 items valued at $75 to $650 on the silent auction block. Items valued at less than $75 will be raffled off. Raffle tickets are priced at $5 each or vie for $20. These prizes include restaurant gift cards and services.

LAST YEAR’S FIREBALL, the first ever, raised $5,600 and netted $3,600. "We enjoy and take pride in giving back to the community," Medwedeff said.

The auction is Friday, March 21, beginning at 7 p.m. at VVFD Flame Room 400 Center Street S. For more information, go to www.vvfd.org or visit Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/583973395025583/?ref=br_tf for updates.