Chelsea firefighters donning dresses for good cause

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

CHELSEA – The waitresses of Hartley’s restaurant in Chelsea will have the night off April 20 as the Chelsea Fire Chief, members of Chelsea Fire and Rescue and the North Shelby Lions Club don aprons, get in touch with their feminine sides and serve food at a Lions Club dinner.

The North Shelby Lions Club is teaming up with Chelsea Fire to raise money for the fire department’s explorer program and the Lions Club’s high school leadership program.

“We’re just going to try to make it a fun evening for two great charities. We’re trying to think outside the box a little bit,” said Lions Club Past President Barry Elliott. “We’re excited about the event and think people can come and raise some funds for some great charities.”

The Chelsea Fire Explorer program gives 14- to 21-year-olds an opportunity to be involved in fire service.

“From my personal experience of being an explorer and volunteer when I was 18, it gave me a huge advantage in recruit school,” said Hampton Vinoski, who is now a paid firefighter with Chelsea Fire. “It helped me understand how being a firefighter can be, and it shows if you’re really built for it.”

Joe Pugh was also hired by Chelsea Fire after going through the Explorer program and completing recruit school.

“It conditions you for different things,” Pugh said.

Vinoski heard about the Chelsea Explorer program through school.

“I immediately pursued it. I signed up and started riding trucks that day, and I was hooked,” he said.

The Lions Club dinner will also raise funds for its Leo Club at Coosa Valley Academy. The money raised will send high school juniors and seniors to a leadership weekend at Troy University.

Tickets are available for the April 20 dinner for $10 at Chelsea Fire and Rescue, through Lions Club members and Hartley’s restaurant. Attendees can purchase tickets for 5 p.m., 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.