Camano volunteers come to the aid of firefighters

It wasn’t a huge request, but south Camano Island firefighters wanted new sweatshirts and cool caps.

For a group of volunteers who make $8.50 per emergency response, buying extra gear is not in the household budget.

Thanks to the Mabana Flames, an auxiliary of women who support the south-end fire station, men got their attire.

It became clear to a group of women in 1973, said historian Cynthia Smith, that neighborhood volunteer firemen needed a financial hand.

“The first order of the day was to raise money, lots of money, for they had grand ideas,” Smith said. “At the first meeting of the group they voted to sponsor a garden plant sale and offer pie and coffee on the side.”

The plant sale is still a major fundraiser.

Through the decades they have raised money selling Christmas wreaths, offering flea markets, Christmas bazaars, card parties, dinners, auctions and writing cookbooks.

One book includes a favorite recipe from former Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, her all-time favorite bouillabaisse with salmon and halibut.

“The idea for the card parties at the Mabana fire station grew out of the gas shortage that occurred in 1974,” Smith said. “It didn’t take long before the Flames became part of the fabric of the south Camano community along with the South Camano Grange, Ladies Aid Society and Homemakers Club.”

Its efforts provided an amazing array of goods.

The group helped buy an aid car, property around the fire station, a “Jaws of Life,” computers, flashlights, boots and funds to paint the fire hall. The Mabana Flames bought cots and bedding for the fire station, too, when it was needed as an emergency shelter.

Like wonderful neighbors, they rushed supplies to Stanwood this winter when Josephine Sunset Home residents were evacuated in a flood to a church.

A committee is in charge of making sure the station is up to par with food, water and toys for 40 people for three days, said vice president Vivian Meyers.

“The south end of the island can be very remote when the power is out and the road is blocked,” Meyers said. “The Flames are able to meet extra, emergency needs.”

Meyers retired to Camano Island four years ago. She found friendship and fun by joining the Flames, she said.

Flames president Carolyn Klein moved to the island more than three years ago. She took a class and got busy volunteering to make friends, and a difference.

“I have been fortunate enough to move to a place where I found some of the most amazing women I have ever known,” Klein said. “We may be small in numbers here on the south end, but not in community spirit or our ability to come together as a family and volunteer.”

Mabana has one paid firefighter plus the volunteers.

Folks on Camano Island should have received ballots in the mail for a levy election Aug. 18 to determine the level of emergency service. There are two measures to consider—for fire and emergency medical services.

Pass or not, firefighters will still have the support of the auxiliary. The Mabana Flames continue to map the community, so firefighters know who lives where, who has pets, where to grab emergency supplies, who has a propane tank and if disabled neighbors need assistance in a storm or earthquake.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” Meyers said. “We’re almost done.”

The women come from a place of caring and responsibility. Auxiliary members never lose their focus, Klein said, and ask fire volunteers what were their greatest needs are, then do their best to provide those items.

They even gave members of their volunteer force a special gift in appreciation of their dedication and hard work.


“Without our volunteer firemen, life would be very perilous on Camano Island,” Klein said.

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451,

On the ballot

Camano Island residents should have received ballots in the mail for a levy election Aug. 18 to determine the level of emergency service on the island. There are two measures to consider, a fire and an emergency medical services levy.

For more information about the levies, call 360-629-3008.

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