Volunteer fire district strikes gold with used pumper find

Long-time supporter's large donation helped equip the rig


By Tesa Glass
Mt. Vernon Register-News

WALTONVILLE, Ill. — Everything fell into place as if it were destined when the Waltonville Fire Protection District found a 1997 pumper truck to add to its tools for fighting fires.

And, a donation from long-time Waltonville Fire Protection District supporter Millie Kiselewski helped further the department needs, prompting for the dedication of the pumper in her memory.

"We always have a wish list at the district, and because of generous donations, we didn't have to spend as much so we could afford the pumper and equipment," said volunteer firefighter Scott Pennington. "I mean, it all happened like it was meant to be. We never sat at a meeting and said we wanted to look for a truck. We knew we needed one but we weren't actively looking."

Pennington, on a whim, contacted Brindlee Mountain Fire Aparatus of Alabama just to see what was available.

"He ran across a good deal," Chief Ed Dulaney said. "Our old pumper we had was just unreliable."

The truck was from the Chepachet Fire Department of Rhode Island, and had been recently acquired by Brindlee Mountain.

"It was for sale at $35,000 and a 1997 model," Dulaney said. "A couple other departments were interested in the truck, but didn't take it."

The low cost, financed by the fire district board, came because the district took it on an "as is" basis.

"Coming home, it had a few problems," Dulaney said. "There was a hole in the turbo system at the manifold and was letting air get in. It didn't take long to fix that. That's all that was wrong with it."

Pennington said when representatives of the department, including himself and Delaney, went to Alabama to look at it, they also found about $1,000 worth of tools already mounted to the vehicle.

"I wasn't expecting the equipment to be there," Pennington said. "It had so many things we didn't know we would get when we went down there. ... Brindlee Mountain had just bought it that week. If they would have done the work before they normally sell a vehicle, and it went through the process, it would have sold for about $75,000. We got a great deal."

The district sold its old pumper to the Hurst Fire Department, and recouped funds toward the price of the new pumper.

"The old truck had 129,000 miles on it," Assistant Chief Jerry Newell said. "Hurst bought it from us. They only have to cover their town, they don't have the rural miles of coverage we have to get out of a truck."

And the new truck only has about 20,000 miles.

The firefighters, through the annual fundraising pancake breakfast and gun raffle, have been able to purchase the equipment for the truck, in addition to getting donations.

"John House did the lettering, and all the EMS equipment has been donated so far," Pennington said. "Litton Ambulance and the Medicine Shoppe donated our EMS supplies. ... Because we were able to save that money on equipment, we were able to get a thermal imaging camera."

Now that the truck is fully equipped, it is one of two "true rescue" trucks serving in Jefferson County.

"Of the 12 departments and districts that cover portions of the county, only two now have a true rescue pumper," Pennington said. "A true rescue pumper covers EMS, car wrecks and fires with all the equipment on one truck. Everyone else has two of the three or one of the three. The only other vehicle is sitting at Station 1 at the Mt. Vernon Fire Department."

Waltonville Fire Protection District covers 90 square miles with 15 volunteers — two of which are paramedics, two to three are EMTs and the rest firefighter first responders, Dulaney said.

One of the first things the district chose to do was dedicate the new truck in memory of Millie Kiselewski.

"Maxine helped start the department," Dulaney explained. "She ran bingo to help us and got together a lot of donations through the years. When she passed away, memorials were made in her honor to the department. We wanted to put her name on it to honor her."

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(c)2013 the Mt. Vernon Register-News (Mount Vernon, Ill.)

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