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Saturday, February 21, 2009

1957 Water tender still fighting fires

St. Elmo Fire Protection District has oldest water truck around

Cathy Thoele
Effingham Daily News

ST. ELMO — St. Elmo Fire Protection District may have the oldest water truck around, but it can still run with the best of them.

The water truck started out as a new fire truck when the fire protection district bought it in 1957. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the district converted it into a water truck.

It is the oldest water truck in operation in the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) 54 Division, which includes 23 departments in Effingham, Jasper, Fayette, Shelby, Cumberland and Richland counties, and has been used to haul water to every rural structure fire in the area where mutual aid is needed.

While parts may be a little hard to come by, St. Elmo Fire Chief Doug Engeljohn said the truck still runs good, earning second place in water hauling at a recent rural water shuttle class.

“It can haul water with the best of them,” he said.

The truck that has traveled 9,000 miles also shows no outward signs of wear with the 1,800-gallon tank still shining. The common tank size on most water trucks now is 2,000 gallons, according to Engeljohn.

Even though the truck still runs good, the fire protection district would like to replace it, but it has been unsuccessful in obtaining funding help. The district has applied for a fire act grant a few times and has been turned down each time. Engeljohn said he’s not sure why the district hasn’t been chosen to receive a grant to replace the old truck, but he isn’t dwelling on it.

“We got a water truck, and that’s the lot of it.”

1 comment:

Dan said...

Safety is our primary concern especially when it is against fires. It is a good investment to buy a truck dedicated for fire fighting because an old one can be a liability and you can be frustrated if it fails everyone.