Grants fund three new fire trucks

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sontag Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dickey Mahaffey said hisfirefighters will be excited to see the new fire truck that came inMonday, since one of their trucks is now 52 years old.

“The pumper we got now is from 1957,” Mahaffey said whiletalking about the old one and admiring the department’s new one.”We’ve got a meeting tonight, I imagine we’ll try it out.”

Sontag’s truck is one of three that rolled into MonticelloMonday, all paid for in part by Rural Fire Truck AcquisitionAssistance Grants. Fire Coordinator Robert Patterson said havingthree brand new trucks arrive for county departments in one day wasalmost unheard of.

“We’re lucky. We’re blessed to have all these new trucks,” hesaid. “We have good supervisors who are willing to fight for ourrating. That’s 100 percent of it there, is having someone who backsyou up on this stuff.”

Patterson said each Pierce commercial single-cab 1,000 gallontruck – the one that goes to District One, and the two to DistrictThree – only ended up costing about $100,000 each, which the countygot through low-percentage loans. The grants, written by MonticelloFire Department Capt. Jared Evans, put $210,000 toward theacquisition of the trucks.

“This does a lot for our department,” said District Three VFDChief Charlie Turner. “Saves us a lot of running across the county.Some of the other trucks we have are junk.”

Monday’s delivery marks four new trucks in the county in 2009thanks to the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Grants.

But most important to the community besides improved fireprotection, Patterson said, is the fact that the new apparatuseswill help with local insurance rates.

“This will help with our rating,” he said. “We’re going for aClass Nine rating out in the county. In District One and Three, I’mpretty sure that’s in reach for us. That’ll be a substantialsavings for homeowners.”

Patterson said the trucks also offer improved morale and safetyfor the firefighters of the county.

“It’s a safety matter. You don’t want to go into a house firewith a 1949 model truck,” he said. “Plus with Jared working onthose (Assistance to Firefighters) grants, we’re getting plenty ofgood equipment, new hoses and turnout gear and stuff. It’s greatfor morale and safety.”

Officials from District Three said members of the department gottogether Monday night to put the equipment and hoses on thetrucks.

“Just a few more final touches left but the good thing is theyare ready to roll,” District Three’s Facebook Fan Pageproclaims.

And Patterson said these three trucks are hopefully another stepin fully protecting his county, listing the departments that havegood, functioning equipment thanks to grants in recent years.

“This is working out real well,” he said.