Standing in the middle of the road wearing overalls, a smile and his tattoos, a shirtless Rhett Burland greeted the cars as they put change in a boot he held up to their windows.
“I was told, ‘you have tattoos, go out there,’” he said, laughing after his hour-long “shift” was over.
Rhett, a volunteer firefighter with the Finley Point/Yellow Bay Fire Department for a year, helped raise money during the department’s annual open house Saturday, June 30.
He estimated he collected about $300.
His father, Fire Chief Brett Burland, was seen walking around the department where community members could enjoy a free barbecue and rummage sale, the latter courtesy of the Montecahto Club.
On display for motorists traveling Montana Highway 35 were at one point, all of the vehicles in the front of the station, located at 35408 Mt Highway 35.
Vehicles parked neatly for viewing included three Type 6 trucks and two command trucks.
Burland said that of the department’s fleet, the tinder stands out because it is the only one in the valley with a vaccuum system, allowing it to process 2,000 gallons of water in 118 seconds.
Setting the department aside is a drone with night-vision capabilities, Burland said.
While the department has a high number of accident calls, it also assists nearby Search and Rescue teams with its drone.
“Our drone is the only one in Northwest Montan with a FLIR camera mounted to it,” Burland said, explaining the camera has heat-sensitivity technology allowing searches to occur at night.
Burland said that last August when the Blue Bay Fire first ignited, he worked with Incident Commander Bob McCrea of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Division of Fire, to fly the drone at night and map out the blaze.
“We didn’t want to be up in the air during the daytime because they have air operations,” Burland said, adding that at night, firefighting from the sky is shut down, providing the best time to fly the drone.
Proceeds that were generated Saturday benefit the membership of the department.
Currently there are 24 firefighters with the Finley Point/Yellow Bay Fire Department.
Burland said Saturday that he had a goal of $6-7,000 to raise, which will go toward department T-shirts and other apparel, as well as food and water to keep int he trucks through the year.
Since the money is stretched thin, Burland said the department relies on the community.
To announce the openhouse, a fundraising letter is sent out in May each year, which goes through December.
The openhouse has happened each year for at least 15 years, Burland said.
Also at the station was the Montecahto Club’s annual rummage sale over the weekend.
Proceeds benefit other local nonprofits, as well as a scholarship for Polson students.
Chris Nelson, treasurer, and June Hommas, a member and past treasurer of the club, said they hoped to raise $1,000 this year.
“We’ve been doing this sale for at least 20 years,” Nelson said.
Everything for the rummage sale and bake sale was donated by members of the social group.
The Montecahto Club is a ladies’ social club established in 1935. Just south of the Finley Point station is the clubhouse.
For more information on the Finley Point/Yellow Bay Fire Department, visit www.facebook.com/FPYBFD.