Donations send fire truck on the road to Tenn.

February 10, 2000

Donated truckBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Donations from area residents are pouring in for a rural Tennessee fire department that is so poor it can't afford $750 to pay for delivery of a ladder truck donated by a Mercersburg volunteer fire company.

cont. from front page

Nick Barbuzanes, chief of the Mercersburg, Montgomery, Peters and Warren Volunteer Fire Department, said Thursday that more than $1,700 in checks have come into his department since a story in last Sunday's Herald-Mail reported the plight of the Campbell County (Tenn.) Rural Fire Service.

Two of the checks were for $750 each, the amount Donald McGuire, assistant chief of the Tennessee fire department, said he needed to hire a rig to haul his donated ladder truck home.


One of the $750 checks was sent in by Gary T. Angle and his wife, Judy, of Greencastle, Pa. Angle said he is a social member of the Rescue Hose Co. No. 1 in that community.

"I felt bad when I read about it in the paper," Angle said. He said he spoke to his wife about the donation and she agreed. "It's hard to believe that some people have such hardships. We're so fortunate here to have what we have."

The individual who sent in the other $750 check could not be reached Thursday.

Barbuzanes said an area trucker has offered to haul the ladder truck to Tennessee for the price of the fuel needed to drive there.

"If we can get the truck delivered to Tennessee for nothing, then I'll send any money that we collect so they can build a firehouse," Barbuzanes said.

McGuire said in a telephone interview from his home in LaFollette, Tenn., Thursday that the LaFollette City Fire Department has the only ladder truck in Campbell County and that it currently is down with its engine out. He said he needs the Mercersburg truck as a backup for the city's ladder truck.

"We have some four and five-story buildings, including a new apartment house for the elderly that is just opening up," McGuire said.

"I can't believe how much the people up there support their fire departments," he said. "They don't support us here. Tell them how much I appreciate what they're doing for us."

Campbell County has 35,000 people spread across a large area, McGuire said, adding much of the area is depressed.

His goal is to raise $25,000 to build a 30-by-40-foot fire house east of LaFollette to cover the most rural part of his county.

His department doesn't have a fire hall. It keeps its two old pumpers, including one that was in an accident two weeks ago, in a rent-free garage provided by the LaFollette Ambulance Squad.

McGuire said he will put the Mercersburg ladder truck in the garage once he gets it. "I'll move the wrecked truck outside," he said.

Any money he gets from Mercersburg will go toward building the new firehouse. "I've raised $6,500 so far. Hopefully we can start to build it by next fall," he said.

The Mercersburg volunteers advertised their 1963 Seagrave ladder truck in trade magazines last fall with an asking price of $15,000. Barbuzanes got a few offers below the asking price before he got McGuire's call asking that he donate the truck because his department could not afford to buy one.

The Mercersburg fire department's board of directors decided to give the truck to Campbell County, providing the truck was picked up. The truck has an open cab and it would be too cold to drive it the 500 miles to Tennessee.

Barbuzanes said other checks have come in for as much as $100 and as little as $10. He said he will continue to accept donations until the truck is delivered.

Donations can be mailed to the firehouse at 132 N. Main St., Mercersburg, PA 17236.

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