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Heilbron Springs VFD gets new Tanker

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  • Heilbron Springs VFD gets new Tanker

    The Heilbron Springs Volunteer Fire Department is in the process of expanding its station to accommodate a tanker truck leased to the firefighters by the Division of Forestry (DOF).
    DOF leases vehicles to most of the volunteer stations in the area, providing the county with pieces of expensive equipment at little or no cost to local taxpayers. The tanker has been leased to the station for some time, but according to Fire Chief Terry McCarthy, the volunteer department has not previously had the money to build the additional bay required to house the vehicle out of the elements.

    Through donations from businesses and individuals, the fire department has now raised enough money to begin work on the new bay, but not to finish it. A total of $1,800 has been collected so far. McCarthy said an additional approximate $4,000 will be needed to finish the 17-by-40 concrete block bay.

    "We saved and saved and finally have enough to pour the floor and lay the blocks," said McCarthy. "My personal goal is to have it complete by Nov. 1." None of the funds to expand the station came from county coffers, said McCarthy. The county does fund the following items for volunteer fire departments:

    * Both auto liability and worker's compensation insurance.

    * Costs for equipment like radios, etc.

    * Costs for supplies like fire suppressing foam, etc.

    * Repairs and maintenance on the vehicles and equipment.

    * Utility costs associated with the six VFD stations, etc.

    In 2003 the budget for all six stations was $90,000, or $15,000 per station for the year. If a volunteer station is located inside the city limits of any city in the county, the city council usually also funds a portion of the operating costs, as does the city of Lawtey, for example.

    Stations like Heilbron Springs and Theressa, however, have no assistance from any entity except the county and donations they collect from the people who live in the area the station serves.

    McCarthy said a number of businesses and individuals in the county have assisted with the project by either donating labor or materials.

    Doug Douglas, of Douglas Construction, volunteered to pull the necessary permits and supervise the project to ensure the bay was built - not only to county code but to the national codes that govern buildings that can be used as hurricane shelters. McCarthy said he hopes to have the station eventually declared a hurricane shelter.

    Mason John Diggs donated most of his time - and even volunteered his brother - to assist with pouring the slab and setting the blocks. Local companies donated rebar and provided other materials, either free or at a reduced rate.

    Inmates from the Bradford County Jail work crew helped pour the cement, dig the footings and complete other tasks.

    McCarthy said building the bay is important because it will save the county money in the long run. "If we can keep our equipment out of the weather, then we'll be cutting down on the cost of repairs and maintenance," said McCarthy.

    He said that when the nights finally turn cold, an electrical warming system is often used to keep the water pipe system in the tanker from freezing. If it freezes and there is a fire, the tanker won't be usable until the water thaws. With the tanker inside the bay, the chances of the water freezing are lessened. Also, the times when electricity is used to keep the tanker warm will be fewer.

    Of course, any vehicle that sits out in the rain all the time will be more susceptible to rust or damage from debris blown by storms. A broken windshield can put a vehicle out of service until repairs are made, he said. "It's important that we keep our equipment in as good repair as possible," said McCarthy. "It costs less to keep it from breaking down than it does to fix it."

    McCarthy also wanted to send a message to the residents of the Heilbron Springs area. The fire department usually sends out a letter asking for donations from the people it serves. That letter will not be sent this year due to the department being unable to get the new 911 addresses for the people on its donation list. Anyone who would like to make a donation can send a check made to the Heilbron Springs Volunteer Fire Department at 21412 NW SR-16, Starke, FL., 32091.

    Note on the check if the donation is for the building fund or for general operations.

    McCarthy said a clean-up project was recently completed at the station using donated materials and labor. An open house will be scheduled in the near future so community and county residents can take a closer look at the changes.

    "This is and always has been a public station," said McCarthy.

    ©Bradford County Telegraph 2003
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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