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Area fire company donates truck to help in hurricane recovery

November 11, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

SMITHSBURG

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

Hurricane Katrina wiped out 11 of the 14 fire stations in Plaquemine Parish, La., at the mouth of the Mississippi River, just south of New Orleans.

With equipment and supplies lacking, Belle Chasse Volunteer Fire Department now has to serve the entire parish. Firefighters also have their own homes to worry about.

But thanks to the Smithsburg Community Volunteer Fire Co., help is on the way.

On Thursday, the fire company donated a 1984 Ford W.S. Darley firetruck, equipped with emergency medical items donated by the Boonsboro Volunteer Ambulance & Rescue Service.

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Mack Trucks of Hagerstown donated the truck and supplied two drivers to haul it to Louisiana. D.L. George & Sons of Waynesboro, Pa., donated the trailer.

The truck is expected to arrive in Plaquemine Parish on Saturday, Smithsburg Fire Chief Steven K. Lewis said. Firefighter Dale Fishack will present the truck.

"For me, this kind of takes me full-circle with this truck," Fishack said. "It's the firetruck I got my license on. It's also the first truck I ran my first fire on. It's kind of sweet to see it help somebody else out."

Lewis said the fire company had planned to sell the truck, expecting to receive $25,000 for it. But the gas motor, open cabin and manual transmission made it a hard sell. Lewis said $8,000 was the best offer they could get.

"If we're not going to get more than $8,000, why don't we look into donating it down South?" Lewis said.

Fishack said the fire company learned of Plaquemine Parish's situation through the National Fire Academy.

"We felt it this was our chance to give back," Lewis said. "There's been a lot of people who've helped us out.

"If we were ever in a situation like they were, we'd hope they'd be there to help us out."

There haven't been many home fires for the Belle Chasse Volunteer Fire Department since Hurricane Katrina.

"It's a lot of protecting what is left so that people still have stuff to rummage through," said Rob Ribichaux Jr., Chief of the Belle Chasse Volunteer Fire Department.

Ribichaux said there isn't much left to protect, since many of the parish's buildings have been destroyed. Firefighters have been providing manpower and fresh water, and helping to clean out the community's schools and churches.

Belle Chasse, the northernmost neighborhood in the parish, missed the brunt of the storm and did not lose any equipment, Ribichaux said. The fire department has been trying to help the other stations get back on track, Ribichaux said.

Ribichaux said at least 12 firetrucks were lost to the storm, but the parish expects to receive six donated trucks from fire departments nationwide.

"I've been really thankful for the people across the country who have helped us," Ribichaux said. "Things are getting much better here, but they're still not perfect."

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