The Speegleville Volunteer Fire Department is hoping a little community support and the sale of some old equipment will help it buy a new brush truck ahead of the next year’s summer grass fire season.
The volunteer fire department with 15 active members has already sold a 1998 diesel pickup that needed repairs to its cab, and firefighters are now working to sell a 1982 fire engine as they continue to seek donations to support their responses to 250 to 300 calls for service each year.
“We get a lot of our budget through fundraising … but it’s pretty much up to us to keep it running,” Speegleville VFD Assistant Chief Kevin Merritt said. “We are hoping with the sale of these two vehicles, we might get between $7,000 and $10,000 total.”
The new brush truck is expected to cost between $50,000 and $55,000, Merritt said. While the ‘82 engine is memorable, the cost of repairs it would need to stay in service outweigh the benefits, he said.
“This engine was the first Speegleville engine that went for mutual aid during the West explosion in 2013,” Merritt said. “It ran in nearly all of the parades we’ve been to, but it needs some pretty costly repairs to the point where it would have cost more than the value of the truck.”
The brush truck the department hopes to add to its four-vehicle fleet would be smaller than the old engine that is up for sale but it would be better suited to the department’s typical needs.
“We’ve already had a few grass fires this year,” Merritt said. “When you get out into the middle of a grass fire but you are unsure if that firetruck can get you out of that fire, it is time to get rid of that truck.”
Merritt, a full-time Aramark Corp. employee, said the department’s annual budget is $19,000 and is primarily funded by donations.
“Most years we are able to raise our operating budget, but this year, with a new truck, we are running thin,” Merritt said. “We are just a bunch of volunteers who are here to help our community out.”
The department has a GoFundMe page set up to collect donations at bit.ly/SpeeglevilleVFD.