PFD Accepts Delivery of New Truck
Addressing a longstanding need, the Piggott Fire Department accepted delivery of a new service/rescue truck Thursday, Aug. 27. The purchase of the truck was approved last month by the Piggott City Council, as the department had been seeking to replace their aged service van for a number of years.
Several current, and former, members of the department were on hand for the delivery including the current and last two, fire chiefs and retired firefighters, as well.
"We made the final payment on the last truck we bought last year, so we do have state turnback funds available to pay for the new unit," Fire Chief Brian Haley noted of the effort. "We also benefited from GIF funds acquired through our legislators."
The $133,000-plus cost of the truck was partially paid for by $20,000 acquired for the department by State Rep. Joe Jett, of Success, who was on hand when the new unit was delivered.
"I have over a dozen fire departments and fire protection districts in my district, and I know how important funds for equipment are," Jett said of the new truck. "This is a great asset for the Piggott Fire Department, and the other smaller departments nearby."
The department also utilized $30,000 toward the purchase, which had been acquired for the department by former State Senator Robert Thompson, of Paragould, during his most recent term in the legislature.
Among those on hand for the delivery was Piggott Mayor Jim Poole, who is also a retired firefighter from the local department. "We sure appreciate Joe Jett and Robert Thompson helping us to get funding for this new truck," he noted. "And, we hope there'll be additional funding coming our way in the future for new equipment."
In addition to the funds already on hand, the remainder of the purchase price was covered by a low interest loan from Piggott State Bank. In turn, the payments on the note will be made with the department's Act 833 state funds.
Haley indicated the department has also applied for a Rural Development Grant, and should find out whether it was approved by early December. If approved, the funds would be used to purchase a second set of the "Jaws of Life" for the new service truck, plus a new thermal imaging camera.
"The cost of a set of the "Jaws of Life" is about $20,000 and the new thermal imaging cameras they have out now cost about $9,000," Haley explained. "We'd also like to be able to purchase 10 sets of turnout gear and two more SCBAs (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) so we'd be looking at a cost on all of it of around $60,000."
He noted the 55/45 matching grant would mean the department's cost would be close to $30,000 for its share.
Haley noted the thermal imaging camera would be a great asset to the department, and could be used in a number of ways. "It's primarily used for search and rescue, but they're also great for detecting where pockets are fire are located to try to keep damage to a minimum. Or, if you go into a building and there's a lot of smoke it can help you determine if it's something like a light ballast or socket smoking, and help you find the origin of the fire."
He also noted the equipment is very helpful in finding "hot spots" after battling a fire, and could greatly reduce the number of times the department is called back out for fires which have re-kindled.
The new vehicle features a Ford chassis and is equipped with a Pierce body. It was purchased from Emergency Vehicle Specialists (EVS), of Conway, and delivered from their facility in Memphis. Given the task of driving the new unit from Memphis to Piggott was retired Memphis Fire Chief Harvey Herring. He was accompanied by the EVS territory manager, Phillip Posey.
Shortly after the truck was delivered members of the fire department began stowing their turnout gear in the new service/rescue unit--which will be the most used piece of equipment within the PFD. "This truck will go to every call," Haley explained. "It carries all our equipment and will roll on every call we get."
Given the honor of presenting the check to Posey was recently retired chief Bradley Scheffler, who served as chief during the planning stages of the acquisition. Also among those who stopped by to inspect the new unit were former Chief John Harlan, and former Piggott firefighter and State Representative, Mike Patterson.
Haley noted Tuesday the new truck was pressed into service for the first time over the weekend for a fire call, although luckily it turned out to be a false alarm.