DRESDEN — Last spring, the Dresden Volunteer Fire Department came to the decision to replace their 31-year-old rescue truck and 28-year-old pumper, rolling the two into one with the purchase of a lightly used 2002 KME rescue pumper. That truck was purchased for $150,000 paid for solely with donations and fundraisers by the volunteers and the Auxiliary. Additional funds raised have outfitted that truck with all new hoses and other equipment upgrades, all with no cost to the fire contract.
Feeling the good fortune of their purchase and the support of their community, the Dresden Volunteers were "inspired to pay it forward" when they heard the plight of the volunteer fire department that purchased their old pumper, E25.
The Swan Lake Fire Department in Altheimer, Ark., is one of four Volunteer Fire Departments made from one large fire district in a rural portion of that state. Dresden Mayor Bill Hall says he’d been in that region before and it was about 45 minutes to anything like a town. With no fire taxes or contracts to support volunteers, Swan Lake had been using an old truck cobbled together from the front half of an old army truck and the back half of an old fire truck, and with whatever gear they could find.
So last month, when the Dresden Fire Department said goodbye to E25, as it headed to its new home with the SLVFD, it went loaded! Having previously stripped it down to bare essentials for the sale, the DRFD packed every compartment on the truck they could with older gear and equipment that is still perfectly good, but no longer qualifies for use under New York State expiration dates.
First Assistant Chief Howard Leach says the older gear "was just gathering dust in storage," and the volunteers decided it was best to send it along where it could be put to good use. The list includes:
• 30 sets of turnout gear (helmets, coats, pants, boots)
• 1,300 feet of 5-inch hose
• Three 10-foot lengths of suction hose
• Suction strainers
• The mounted deck gun
• Two water curtain sprayers
• Portable water tank
Hearing of Dresden’s plan to help out fellow volunteer firefighters in need, the Dundee Volunteer Fire Dept. contacted Leach to add 30 more full sets of turnout gear along with personal flashlights. Dresden’s 3rd Asst. Chief Jeremey Henries was scouring every nook and cranny to find space for it all, even rolling up gear and stuffing them in the air tank compartments.
"When that truck pulled out of here, there was barely room for the driver!" laughed Leach. He added, each set of gear purchased new, costs $3,000, but there is no real difference between the new and the used ones besides the expiration date.
When he heard of Dresden’s remarkable generosity, Swan Lake Fire Chief Eddie Anderson responded on their Facebook post, "We are as excited as a child on Christmas morning to get it here to our station!" And it was a timely arrival. Just before Christmas, E25 responded to two housefires that occurred back to back. "It was the best thing ever," Anderson told Leach.
"We’re very glad to see it go to another home where it’ll be used well," agreed both Hall and Leach along with all the dedicated volunteers of Dresden and Dundee.