Gasparilla Island to receive pump truck

ENGLEWOOD -- The truck's old and in need of work, but that doesn't matter.

After a three-month quest, Little Gasparilla Island Fire and Rescue will receive a mini-pumper firetruck from Charlotte County.

The county will donate the 400-gallon truck to the nonprofit group during a 10:30 a.m. presentation Monday at the county's Fire & EMS headquarters, 22449 Edgewater Drive, Port Charlotte.

Gene Surdam, chief of Gasparilla Island's squad, asked the county for the recently sidelined truck some three months ago. Old trucks are typically auctioned off, but the group couldn't afford to buy the vehicle, since last year's budget only amounted to $4,400.

The truck would run about $2,000.

"Now we're much happier," Surdam said. "This will be a whole lot easier for everybody. It will help us tremendously."

The four-wheel-drive, 1981 Pierce mini-pumper, which looks like a Ford F-250 pickup truck, carries a small pump and tank.

Surdam said the mini-pumper would be able to traverse the island's sandy roads and even haul EMS equipment.

It would complement the squad's 850-gallon truck by providing a constant stream of water, Surdam said. The mini-pumper can draw water from lakes or canals, which is especially helpful since the island isn't equipped with fire hydrants.

"It will be an all-around vehicle," Surdam said. "We'll be in much better shape as far as pushing water."

Surdam said the truck could pump more than 400 gallons of water a minute.

Charlotte County Fire Chief Dennis DiDio said the truck has considerable rust and may need some work on its pipes. But he said the smaller, more maneuverable truck would increase the fire squad's pumping capacity while decreasing its response time.

"It's not a brand-new truck," DiDio said, "but they have to start somewhere. They'll cut it up and make it fit their needs."

DiDio and commissioner Mac Horton, both of whom were essential in getting the truck donated, will attend the presentation. Afterward, members of the Gasparilla squad will take the pumper to the island via barge.

You can e-mail Gavin Off at [email protected]

By GAVIN OFF

Staff Writer