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Grant will help purchase firetruck

January 29, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HALFWAY - A firetruck that has been in service since Ronald Reagan was president will be heeding the call of retirement from the Halfway fire company, thanks to a federal grant that will help pay for a new vehicle with more bells and whistles.

Jeff Ringer, chief of the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, said Thursday that the department intends this year to replace one of its 1981 engine pumpers with a new 500-gallon pumper truck.

A grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will fund $233,100 of the cost of the truck, U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski's office announced in a press release Thursday. That will cover most of the cost, Ringer said, and the department will pay the rest.

While the current truck is in good working order, Ringer said, it lacks safety devices, such as shoulder harnesses and air bags, that are now standard. Firefighters plan to raise $25,000 to $30,000 to outfit the truck with the latest gear to respond to emergencies.

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The truck will have equipment for freeing crash victims from vehicles, and it will have better reflective striping and lighting than the truck it will replace, Ringer said.

The old truck has racked up about 56,000 miles, Ringer said.

Last year, the department responded to almost 800 fire calls, Ringer said.

In its press release, Mikulski's office announced grants totaling more than $500,000. The Department of Homeland Security also is giving $285,000 for a new tanker truck for Cumberland, Md.

"The big thing is, it is 26 years old. It doesn't meet any of the current safety regulations," Ringer said.

The fire department figures the new truck will be in service 20 years, Ringer said.

As soon as the fire department can find a buyer, the old truck will be history, Ringer said. Three other pumpers, including a refurbished 1981 truck and a reserve truck, a ladder truck, a mini pumper, two paramedic units and three service vehicles, also are in the department's fleet, Ringer said.

Ringer said fire departments looking to unload old trucks sometimes sell them or give them away to more rural departments.

He said he does not know how much the old truck will bring.

"Somebody walks in the door with the cash, it'll be good to go," he said.

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