POUND RIDGE, N.Y. -- Hundreds of people turned out for the Pound Ridge Fire Department's all-you-can eat pancake breakfast Sunday, Feb. 21.
Even before the morning was half over, the firefighters had to ask their benefactor, the Scotts Corner Market, for a fresh supply of the staples the market had donated.
Grownups clustered together at long tables and breakfasted on orange juice, pancakes, grilled sausage and coffee, while children donned fire helmets to climb in, out and around the fire truck parked out front.
Co-chef David Andronaco, a 44-year department volunteer, shared his secret for his special flapjacks. "You need a really hot griddle and you've got to wait until the tops bubble before you flip them over."
Working alongside Andronaco, 54-year volunteer veteran Raymond Clark, 81, reminisced about the old days.
"You used whatever was on the truck. If you were a size 11 and the boots were size 9 you were out of luck," he said.
The number of calls has been annually consistent, says Clark, but the reasons have changed. "We used to deal with grass fires a lot because people burned brush." Now half the calls are triggered by automatic home alarms. "It's usually burnt food or steam from the shower."
Enlisting volunteers has become a complex problem, said Fire Chief Edward Trail. "People who work in the city just don't have the time." Another drawback is the cost of living in Pound Ridge because there is no affordable housing, he said.
To help fill the gap, the department has acquired some low-cost housing, made available to volunteers in exchange for their time and effort. One beneficiary is 2nd Lt. Vincent Zafonte, who grew up in Pound Ridge. He says he wants to live out his life here, "but I wouldn't be able to afford it without the subsidized housing."
"Like other volunteer organizations, you get out what you put into it," said Trail. "You know, these people are calling you on probably the worst day of their lives and you're there helping them. When you experience that, you want to do it again and again."
For more information, visit poundridgefire.com .