The Sable Flames Inc. will raise money for scholarships for young students while hosting the 27th Annual Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit on Saturday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.-midnight at The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club, 1 W Dayton St.
This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Sable Flames, an organization of the Madison Fire Department’s African-American firefighters. Firefighter Brandon Jones is the vice-chair for this year’s event and has been helping to organize the last five benefits.
“The Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit came about because of the result of the Sommerset tragedy of 1990. It was a really bad fire and five children were lost in that fire and the events surrounding it really divided the families and the community and the fire department personnel,” Jones tells Madison365. “So, what happened was that the African-American firefighters decided to organize themselves and create a scholarship fund in the name of those children who perished in the fire.”
With that, the Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit was born. “During the year, we raise funds towards the scholarship,” Jones says. “We hold this dance to celebrate the funds raised and formally give out those scholarships. The scholarships are directed towards minority individuals who are looking to further their education.”
Beyond the Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit, the Sable Flames host events throughout the year like a BOWLieve in Education or the annual Richard Garner Memorial Ride to raise funds.
Garner was a good friend of Jones who died on Easter morning – just four days before his 30th birthday – shortly after finishing a 48-hour shift on the job. Garner had a long and stressful two days and by the time he finished his shift at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, he had responded to 19 emergency calls.
Garner’s passing reminds each firefighter how they really are part of a big family.
“When I first started, the concept of working together and sleeping together for 24 hours was very foreign to me,” Jones remembers. “But what I soon realized is that it is a brotherhood and a family that you grow into. These people are my co-workers but they are also my family. It extends way beyond when you are on duty.
“Outside of our job, we are always willing to help each other. It’s like a second family. That’s the best way to put it,” he continues. “I have a family at home, but I also have a second family that I need to keep tabs on – especially in recent times of us losing a couple members.”
Todd Mahoney, an apparatus engineer with the Madison Fire Department, also passed away last year. He was just 38 years old.
“I think the mental health aspect and taking care of yourselves has been pushed to the forefront of everybody’s minds in terms of everybody staying healthy and keeping tabs on each other after a tragic call,” Jones says. “Because although we may think we’re superheroes, we’re just regular human beings that do the best we can on every call we respond to.”
The Annual Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit was one of Garner’s favorite events, Jones remembers. This year’s event will feature complimentary food, complimentary beer and wine from 7-9 p.m. and dancing all night – with music provided by DJ Corey Rocklen.
“We love DJ Corey Rocklen. Not only does he bring a really good sound, but he brings lights and a smoke machine,” Jones says.
“Beer and wine are free at the event, so if you aren’t a sober dancer, a couple drinks might get you out on the floor,” adds Jones, laughing.
There will be a 50/50 raffle, box raffle and a couple of surprises for Valentine’s Day weekend. All of the evening’s proceeds go to the Jones-Robinson Scholarship that the Sables award annually to low-income Madison-area students attending college.
“It’s a really good time. It will be really fun. It’s a celebration of time and effort put in the during the previous year organizing and fundraising for the scholarship,” Jones says. “More importantly it’s a time for us as the Sable Flames to come together as an organization and be with other firefighters and community members and have a good time.
“Food, family, and fun …that’s what I like to say,” he adds. “We’re hoping to see a nice crowd out on Saturday night.”
For tickets to the 27th Annual Second Alarm Scholarship Benefit, click here. For more information about the Sable Flames, visit sableflames.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.