A former Cobb County fire truck will have a new home in New York later this month.
Officials from Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services held Wednesday morning a ceremony that saw the department donating a surplus fire engine—a 1992 Pierce Arrow Red Pumper with 177,292 miles on it—to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department, which is based in Howard Beach, N.Y.
The fire truck donation stems from Cobb Fire’s ongoing partnership with the Georgia Chapter of the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund, which has identified a number of departments in the northeastern U.S. that lost equipment as a result of Hurricane Sandy last year.
“They lost everything … their firehouse was flooded, their engines, their ambulances, their turnout gear, their tools … they lost everything. So this is a big deal for Cobb County to donate this to the Terry Ferrell Firefighters Fund,” said Sean Gray, the Georgia chapter’s assistant director, who was on hand for the ceremony to accept the title for the fire truck.
“Though we’re based in Georgia, [and] we help firefighters here in Georgia, this was something special, and these guys were in such need that the national chapter reached out to the 14 other state chapters and said ‘Hey listen, we need help from all around,’ so we started making phone calls to all the fire chiefs,” Gray added. “Firefighters always try to step up and help. When 9/11 came around, we did the same thing, raise money for all the guys up there and their families.
“That’s what this is all about—helping our brothers up north.”
Presenting Gray with the fire truck and its title was Cobb Fire Chief Sam Heaton, who told those in attendance that once he received the organization’s request for aid, he approached Cobb County officials about donating some of the department’s surplus equipment. The final say for the fire truck donation came from the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, which gave its unanimous approval.
Heaton said the truck had been in his department’s reserves for the last five years, sitting in a station in case of a breakdown of an on-duty truck. He added that while the donated truck has a lot of miles on it, it should still be of use to West Hamilton Beach for a few more years.
“Fire trucks, you can’t just look at the miles on [them],” Heaton said. “When a fire truck drives to the scene, it may only drive 5 or 10 miles, but once it gets there and it’s having to pump hydraulics and the water to the scene, it may work that engine at a high RPM rate for another three, four or five hours, which puts a lot stress on that.
“We’re hoping that with this going to a department that maybe does not run as many calls, fight as many fires, it will hopefully give them another few years until possibly they can create ways of funding to buy a new fire truck.”
Gray said the donated truck will save the West Hamilton Beach VFD the cost of buying a new fire truck in the short term, but added that the station of about 25 firefighters will have to work hard to fund the cost of a new fire truck down the road. Those firefighters, he said, hold fundraisers such as boot drives to get the funding they need.
“It will be a while before they’ll be able to buy a brand new fire engine,” he said. “It’s $350,000 for a new fire engine, so you can imagine how many times you’d have to stand in the street or in front of the grocery store to collect money.”
The now-former Cobb fire truck is expected to reach the New York fire department later this month.
Cobb County Fire wasn’t the only Georgia fire department to aid those affected by Sandy. Late last year, the Roswell Fire Department donated one of its surplus engines. One of the two drivers tasked with delivering the truck was David Samuelson of Hiram.
Fire departments from all over the state, Gray said, also came to the aid of their peers up north by donating turnout gear, hoses and other items to those stations that lost equipment.