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Emergency vehicles get free repairs

July 09, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

Repairing a chip in a windshield involves injecting a resin between the layer of plastic present in every windshield and the outer layer of two layers of glass, with the repair used to prevent cracking and more serious damage.

Normally at Cindy Rowe Auto Glass such a repair costs $69.95, but the business is offering free repairs on City of Hagerstown police cars, firetrucks and emergency medical vehicles such as ambulances.

"It's a huge saving for the community," said Rowe, who founded the company more than 25 years ago in Pennsylvania.

Taxpayers won't have to pick up the tab - unless the police officer, firefighter or ambulance attendant puts off having the windshield repaired to the point where the windshield needs to be replaced.

Rowe said she cannot offer free windshield replacements, which average $300 to $500 or more. She said she is hoping her decision to offer free window repairs will demonstrate why repairing a chip early is important.

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"If you get a little stone chip off the highway, 85 percent of those are repairable," Rowe said. "We want to stress the importance of getting your windshield repaired early on before it splits."

If a chip isn't quickly repaired, cracking will begin and the windshield will need to be cut out with an electric knife and replaced.

Drivers of city emergency vehicles can pull into the shop and have the repair done as they wait, Rowe said.

Cindy Rowe Auto Glass opened in Hagerstown in April 2005 and started offering the free repairs to city vehicles a few months ago.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said he appreciates the donation.

"It's a huge benefit to the city," he said, noting that in the past, such repairs had to be paid for from the city's budget.

Bryan Heberlig, assistant manager of the Hagerstown store, said several such repairs have been done.

Heberlig said he personally repaired windshields on a city-owned Chevrolet Suburban and an unmarked police car and said that other employees have repaired other city vehicles.

Rowe, 59, founded the Harrisburg, Pa.-based business in 1980 after she decided she wanted a career in something other than working as a registered nurse.

After seeing an advertisement in a trucking magazine, she took a three-day course in the Midwest learning the technical aspects of windshield repair.

She started the business by putting a kit of equipment in her trunk and offering windshield repair services to car dealerships and trucking companies.

She has since opened 12 shops - all of them in Pennsylvania except for the Salem Avenue shop - but only the Hagerstown store offers free repairs to emergency vehicles, she said.

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