The Desloge Fire Department has stepped up to help a fellow fire department in need.
After an accident a couple of months ago, the Marquand Fire Department lost its big tanker truck.
Out on a call one night, one of the firefighters was turning the truck around when it died. He lost control and it rolled down a 50-foot embankment.
“It flipped at least one and a half times and destroyed the truck,” Fire Chief Jim Starkey said. “Lucky for us, the guy that was driving the truck didn't get injured. Two small cuts on him was all he got. It was a 2,000 gallon tanker and we just lost a decent truck. It was one of our better trucks.”
The Desloge Fire Department just happened to have a 1992 tanker truck and a 1987 pumper that weren’t being used anymore. So, during the city’s monthly meeting on Monday night, the Board of Aldermen voted to wave the bidding process and approve a sale of the two trucks to Marquand for $15,000, the money the department was able to get through fundraisers and insurance money.
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“I appreciate you looking out for your fellow firemen,” Desloge Mayor David Shaw said to Fire Chief Jared Meador and Assistant Fire Chief Larry Penberthy at the meeting.
Starkey said it means a whole lot to the department.
“I never dreamed that we'd have found a truck in this good of shape, this close to us, and was able to afford to buy it,” he said. “Anything that we've been looking at has been way above our budget. We are a tag-based fire department. We do not have taxes or anything like that. We're not paid in taxes for our fire department. We're just a small little fire department.”
He said the department will get a lot of use and years out of the trucks.
“Our trucks are older trucks,” he added. “This (1992) Mack will probably be the newest one.”
Meador said he was overwhelmed with joy to be able to pass the trucks along to a neighboring small, volunteer department. Like he mentioned at the meeting, "It's a game changer for these guys."
“If we don't help each other, it's hard to survive,” he continued. “Because some of us have bigger budgets. Some have no budgets. But at the end of the day, as long as we're helping. (Marquand is) 45 minutes away. It doesn’t matter if you’re four hours away. If they would need something, we would be right here to help them.”
Starkey agreed it is important to help fellow departments. Marquand plans to pass it on.
“Some of the stuff that we have — a couple of our trucks — is going to go to another fire department that's in need,” he explained. “They’re actually just out of our county, but they're definitely in need. They have it worse than we do. (Desloge) also donated a bunch of gear. We're going to spread it out throughout some other fire departments down here.”
Nikki Overfelt-Chifalu is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.