NEW BEDFORD- The volunteer staff of New Bedford Fire Museum met with city councilors at the Minority Action Committee today to discuss funding and other needs of the museum.

Local community activist John “Buddy” Andrade organized the meeting between city officials and the volunteers who run the museum inside of the former New Bedford Fire Department, constructed in 1867.

Rick Spor, Board of Directors of the New Bedford Fire Museum, spoke with Councilor Brian Gomes and Council President Joseph Lopes about the possible funding the museum could get from the city, if at all. The Fire Museum is a non-profit organization that is ran completely by volunteer work from former New Bedford Firefighters, and has had to pay for recent repairs and projects out its own budget.

“Repairs cost the museum $6,000 with zero cost to the city,” Spor said. “Another $3,000 for an HD security camera system that we needed to get. The city didn’t have the money, so what did we do? We went out and got after it, we sold calendars and raised the money on our own,” he said.

Spor made it clear to Gomes and Lopes that the volunteers at the museum have funded the building’s projects on their own in the past, and that Board of Directors recognize that other city entities hold a higher importance than the museum when it comes to city funding, including active duty fire stations.

“There are active duty stations that need that money, and we don’t disagree with that whatsoever. We know that you guys [City Council] have a hard job doling out that money.” Spor told Gomes and Lopes.

City Councilor Brian Gomes and Council President Joseph Lopes both agreed with Spor and the Board of Directors in attendance about the importance the museum to the city. Spor told the councilors of recent and future-planned field trips and tours of the museum, and admits a more focused effort on marketing the Fire Museum will lead to an increase in visitors and money for the museum to fund itself for most projects.

City Tourism and Marketing Director Dagny Ashley has been working with the Fire Museum on marketing itself across the city, and listed funding as a common problem museums share.

“I think every museum faces that challenge to raise funds, to do marketing, to do promotions, to do basic operations.” Ashley said.

Ashley did acknowledge the numerous entities that the city-budget must support, but also assured that the New Bedford Fire Museum would still be getting help from her office at City Hall.

“I definitely agree that if they had more funding that they could do a lot more. But again, it’s definitely tough out there and everyone is vying for the same dollars. But well do whatever we can to assist them and help them with any marketing or promotion and get folks down here to see this wonderful museum.”

Both Councilor Gomes and Council President Lopes expressed their interests in working with the Fire Museum, and to discuss their funding in the coming City Council meetings. The two also stood firm in their stance on providing the active-duty fire and other emergency response stations first priority. Councilor Gomes also suggested seeking out a national organization supporting firefighters for a grant.

The New Bedford Fire Museum is located on 51 Bedford Street. It was one of the first fire stations in the city upon its 1867 completion, and was the oldest active-duty fire station in the country until its closure in 1979, where it became a full-time museum.

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