WHITE LAKE — White Lake Volunteer Fire Department got a much-needed addition recently in the form of a pumper truck. The new 2015 E-One custom pumper replaced a worn-out 1987 pumper truck. The vehicle, built in Ocala, Fla., was purchased for $366,902 from Fire Connections, Inc. in Rocky Mount.
According to Brenda Clark, White Lake town clerk, the money came from the White Lake Fire District, the Town of White Lake and a grant from the Office of State Fire Marshals. The rest is being financed.
The department had been trying for four years to get a grant through AFG’s Assistance for Firefighter’s Grant, but had been denied. The approved grant is offered every year through the Office of State Fire Marshals.
Dale Brennan, White Lake fire chief, says departments can, through the grant, apply for equipment, such as turnout gear or safety equipment.. Departments can also apply for a vehicle or apply to add on to their building. The maximum that departments can apply for is $30,000, and they have to be able to match that figure.
“A lot of fire departments use it to buy radios, pagers, air packs, turnout gear, hoses,” Brennan said. “It’s a great grant. Without it, a lot of fire departments wouldn’t survive.”
The need for the new fire truck was dire. The White Lake Fire Department is required by the Office of State Fire Marshals in Raleigh to have two rated engines, or pumper trucks. That number is determined by needed fire flow, what equipment a department has, how it’s maintained, and what kind of training its members have.
“It’s a lot of stuff people don’t realize,” Brennan said.
“Due to (the 1987 pumper) being 30 years old, the last three years, the tank was leaking and it was time to upgrade,” Brennan explained. “This is a project that we at the town board and fire department have been working on the last three years. It’s not like we got a new truck just because we wanted one. The old truck was worn out and leaking water. It was time to replace it.”
In addition to plumbing issues, there were safety concerns with the old truck.
“It used to be that firefighters could sit or stand on back of trucks like you see in the movies,” Brennan added. “Now they have to be enclosed in the cab with seat belts and air bags.”
Additionally, firefighters were exposed to the elements sitting in the open cab of the old truck.
The new truck has greater pumping capacity, and is expected to help with insurance the next time the department is inspected.
The old vehicle will be sold or auctioned off to the highest bidder, but Brennan isn’t expecting a large return.
“It’s 30 years old and in need of a lot of repairs,” he said.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.