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Monday, September 24, 2012

Sentinel Newspaper - Bunker Hill volunteer firefighters answer call from Oklahoma

Bunker Hill volunteer firefighters answer call from Oklahoma

Published on: Friday, September 21, 2012

By Jim Davis, Sentinel Newspaper

Firefighters usually help residents in their own community — extinguishing house fires, rescuing people from car accidents and transporting patients to the hospital when they are sick or injured.

But sometimes, firefighters help each other.

That was the case when the volunteer firefighters at Bunker Hill Volunteer Fire Department in Mount Rainer decided to assist the Silver City, Okla., firefighters — nearly 1,250 miles away.

In August, Silver City Volunteer Fire Department responded to one the Creek County’s biggest brush fires. As firefighters were battling the massive fire in drought conditions, their 30-year-old fire truck gave out, said SCFD Fire Chief Billy Rusco.

“The pressure dropped from 100 pounds to zero,” Rusco said.

The firefighters determined that the water pump and the transmission in the fire engine were tapped out.

“If the pump goes out, it won’t pump any water,” Rusco explained.

Rusco said his department couldn’t determine if the pump went out because of the demand of pumping water for hours or if time just caught up with the old fire truck. Either way, Rusco said that the department has been feeling the strain of being without the pumper truck.

In the meantime, Silver City has been using a smaller pumper truck. The smaller truck had previously belonged to Silver City, but it was donated to another department about four years ago. Basin Volunteer Fire Department re-donated the truck back to Silver City.

“We can’t afford the $15,000 it would take to fix the engine, let alone purchase a new one at a cost over $400,000. Our annual (budget) is only $20,000 a year,” Rusco said.

In need of a new or used fire truck, SCFD Treasurer Bill Beal sent out several hundred emails to fire departments throughout the United States looking for help.

A few days later, Silver City firefighters received a phone call from BHFD President Richard Melito offering to donate Bunker Hill’s 1988 FMC fire truck for $1. Silver City just had to transport it back to Oklahoma.

“We are here to help people in need,” Melito said. “In this case, it was another volunteer fire department in need of help.”

After several phone calls, the deal was set. But the volunteers of Silver City still needed someone to help them transport the fire truck from Maryland.

An Oklahoma trucking company came to their rescue. Around 1:30 a.m. last Thursday, the fire truck was placed on a flatbed and transported back to the volunteers in Silver City. It arrived safely late Sunday night.

“We are very happy about the fire truck,” Rusco said. “It’s a good feeling to know that another volunteer fire department is willing to help us in our time of need.”

Rusco also said his 17 volunteer firefighters are grateful for the truck.

“We are going to keep in touch with the volunteers in Silver City to see how things are going,” Melito said. “We are planning to make them our sister station.”

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