County comes to city rescue on truck needs

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

When Brookhaven Fire Department’s Engine No. Six went down aftera Thanksgiving night trash fire, it was apparent that the issue wasone that couldn’t be fixed overnight.

So Fire Chief Tony Weeks relied on a little help from hisfriends. Remembering a promise from Hog Chain Volunteer FireDepartment Chief John Hart, Weeks made a call that saved the dayfor BFD.

“When I got to be chief, he called and told me if there was anyway he could help, to give him a call, so I did,” Weeks said.

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BFD borrowed Hog Chain’s Engine 41, one of the only trucks inthe county that can carry four firefighters at once if needed. Thetruck-lending practice has been done several times under previousadministrations when the city department had issues with theirengines.

Hart said his department currently has three other functioningtrucks, so it doesn’t put Hog Chain’s district in any real peril tobe down one truck.

“We’ve got three other trucks ready to go if we have a call,”Hart said. “If Tony calls and I have what he needs available, he’llget it. It’s not only about the homeowners, it’s about thefirefighters themselves and making sure they have dependableequipment.”

Weeks said the problem occurred in the transfer case on thepump, which is not a terribly common problem for a fire engine tohave. He said he’s not sure when Truck Six will be back up, buthopefully it will be some time in the next few days.

Truck Six runs out of BFD Station Two, which covers the eastside of Brookhaven. While they currently have two other functioningengines at Central Station and Station Three, the truck formerlyused as their backup – a 1972 model – has several problems with itas well.

“It runs, but it needs some work done, and we’ll probably try tohave it looked at after the first of the year,” he said. “It’s alot of little things.”

Hart said Truck 41 is a 1980 model, but that the motor wasreplaced about five years ago. He said otherwise, it and Truck Sixare a fair trade.

“As far as the two trucks go, all they’re losing is airconditioning in their cab,” Hart said. “The pump on this truckpasses the same test that our 2005 model does, so performance-wise,they don’t lose anything. This truck is probably built better thansome of these ones now.”

Weeks asked the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen Tuesday night foran emergency amendment to the budget in order to fix Truck Six, arepair that will cost close to $10,000. Some aldermen respondedwith seeming surprise that the borrowed-truck arrangement had beenmade, stating that Brookhaven should upkeep its own equipment andshould not have to use borrowed equipment.

Hart said his department has had some truck woes as well, butthat they make preventive maintenance a priority. That’s how HogChain’s 1980 fire truck still runs almost like new, he said.

“You’ve got to continuously pull preventive maintenance, andwhen something starts to act up, you have to take care of it thenbefore it gets too far out of hand,” he said.

And when things have gotten bad, like one run this summer thatleft his department with one truck after one truck was hit by acar, one had two tires blow out at once, and one had othermechanical failures, he said there have always been otherdepartments there to help.

“The night we had our trucks to down, we had calls from Zetus,New Sight and Loyd Star fire departments saying, ‘If you need atruck, we’ll bring it right now,'” Hart said. “Fires all burn thesame, and we’re all in this together.”

Weeks said he’s grateful for the truck, as well as the fact thathis neighbors to the direct south are willing to share.

“We have a good relationship with the county,” he said. “They’rereally good to help when we need them.”