Truck troubles vex firefighters on call

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 15, 2009

When Hog Chain Volunteer Fire Chief John Hart left home toaccompany his department in assisting Zetus Volunteer FireDepartment on a call Thursday night, he didn’t realize he was aboutto run into problems of almost comic proportions.

Hart said his department started off with four trucks en route.Only one made it to the fire and back problem-free.

“I just kept thinking, ‘What’s next?'” he said.

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Hart said first came the call from one of his firefighters thatthere had been a minor fender-bender with Hog Chain truck 40, andthat it would need to wait on scene for a deputy to come write areport since it was a county vehicle.

The next call was not so harmless. Hog Chain’s 1981 tanker truckhad died not far into the journey out to West Lincoln. Hart said ithasn’t needed major work since it was donated to the department inthe mid-1990s.

“The motor blew up and it can’t be repaired,” he said. “Theywere going along, and all of a sudden they said it just went down.We’d never had to do anything but routine maintenance on it, so itwas probably coming.”

The firefight went without incident, and Hog Chain’s two pumpertrucks set on their way home, one of them stopping at 84 Chevron torefill the diesel tank.

“Well they called me to tell me the ‘check engine’ light hadcome on in 42, and then they said, ‘Wait, the other truck isflagging us down.'”

Truck 41 had had a blowout at the gas station. And as thefirefighters told Hart about the blowout, they noticed another tiregoing flat.

So until the department buys two $300 tires, Hog Chain iseffectively running one truck.

“I told (Zetus Fire Chief) Dale (Anding) that just coming out toassist him on this one fire ended up costing our department about agazillion dollars,” Hart said, laughing. “We’ll get the tires fixed(Friday) morning. But our tanker, which is as vital as a pumper, isout of commission until we can find the funding to get itfixed.”

Hart estimated that to repair the tanker will cost thedepartment between $5,000 and $7,000. While Hog Chain officials hadplanned not to send out requests for donations this year, Hart saidthat plan has changed now.

“It looks like we have to now, because we’ll need the money tofix the tanker,” he said. “But I just kept thinking, ‘Well, nobodywas hurt during this,’ and I’ve been there when we didn’t have atruck sitting in the station at all or where we were respondingwith only a tanker. We’ve had it worse before, but it may be awhile before we’re back up and running full speed.”