Aid gets first new fire truck

Published 11:19 am Tuesday, July 28, 2009

AID TOWNSHIP — Rural volunteer fire departments often find themselves in a bind: They are expected to provide as good a service as paid municipal departments but with a fraction of the budget and a staff of volunteers who work solely because of a desire to help their neighbors.

So last week’s delivery of a brand new pumper/tanker truck to the Aid Township Volunteer Fire Department was sweet indeed to Chief Joe Justice, who said his department has never had a new fire truck before — ever. The truck was paid for by a $232,000.00 grant through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, administered through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Fire Administration.

“When you look at the budget, once you take out the basic bills, gasoline, insurance, there’s no way we could ever have afforded this,” Justice said.

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The 2009 Smeal/Kenworth 1,500 gallon pumper-tanker will replace two older vehicles, a 1976 pumper and a 1978 tanker.

“The importance of this truck is really immeasurable,” Justice said. “The ability to respond with 1,500 gallons of water on board will be a huge asset. The pumper it replaces carried 750 gallons. The truck will not only service our coverage area, but will be available to mutual aid with departments in Lawrence County, and our neighboring townships in Gallia County.”

Aid has never gotten this kind of grant before and never one so large. Previous grants have averaged $8,000, enough to purchase turnout gear and other necessities but not enough for a new truck. With its heavy frame and large water capacity, this new addition is built specifically for rural use and has a roughly 20-year lifespan.

Aid Township usually handles 80-100 calls for help each year. While some are first responder calls (the truck is not used for medical calls) Aid Township also provides mutual assistance to other townships and to the U.S. Forestry Service.

“This wasn’t a frivolous purchase,” Justice said. “This is something we really needed. This helps not only our community but also the communities around us.”

The truck was delivered Thursday.