by Jonathan Weaver
Local residents who have contributed to the Lenten fish frys, turkey dinners or raffles Kittanning Township volunteer firefighters have had the past few years can now see what their money went toward.
After 10 months of waiting, firefighters last month successfully received their newest piece of fire apparatus.
“It’s a 2015 Ford F-550 mini-pumper. (Southern Fire Service of Jasper, Ga.) built it and we got it through Fire-Fly Fire Equipment in Meadville,” Chief Steve Baker said. “It replaces a 1982 GMC, which we acquired used (from South Connellsville in Fayette County) and have had probably 20-25 years.
(The GMC) still works, but it’s at a place now where if something breaks on it, the parts are becoming obsolete.”
The new purchase cost the department $155,000 and firefighters also added $25,000 in additional equipment, such as a thermal-imaging camera, new air packs and a new hose. The mini-pumper holds 300 gallons of water.
“We applied several times for the federal grant, (and) kept getting turned down, so we just decided we couldn’t wait any longer and went ahead and purchased it ourselves,” Chief Steve Baker said. “A third of the truck’s paid for already.”
Fundraising efforts enabled the volunteer fire company to put $55,000 down on the mini-pumper – which can transport five emergency responders rather than three like in the GMC mini-pumper. Monthly payments will continue to be made to NexTier Bank, so fundraising efforts will continue to pay for the mini-pumper and general expenses.
“For the next 10 years, we’ll looking at (paying) $1,000 per month, so that’s why we’re still fundraising. That’s why we need more volunteers,” Chief Steve Baker said.
The mini-pumper is housed with another engine in the substation in Shay – which is about five miles from the department’s main fire station along Route 422. It responds to about 80 percent of the fire dispatches, such as car accidents, brush fires and emergency back-up.
First Assistant Chief Keith Baker was involved in choosing the new apparatus and was one of those that transferred or applied all the new equipment – including a small rescue tool. He said volunteers from both areas of the township will respond to emergency calls.
“If it’s anything in Kittanning Township or if it’s a mutual aid call in one of the neighboring townships – like Elderton, Burrell Township -,we’ll be responding from both stations,” Chief Keith Baker said.
Including social members and junior firefighters, there are about 35-40 volunteers in the fire department.