Three of the county’s six volunteer fire departments are making space in their stations for new vehicles: Brown County (Nashville), Jackson Township and Fruitdale.

All six departments call on each other for mutual aid, so one station’s gain can benefit others, too.

“It’s good, good for the whole county,” Fruitdale Chief Kevin Sebastian said about his new additions.

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Brown County (Nashville)

After a blessing on it and the volunteers it will carry, Brown County Fire’s first aerial truck was pushed into its new home at the Nashville station March 12.The 1996 truck with a 75-foot ladder was delivered from Texas on Jan. 17. It will go in service after it gets radios and firefighters get more training.

“I can think of a few fires in the not-so-near past when this would have been a big help,” Brown County commissioner Diana Biddle said.

Firefighters realized the need for it 20 years ago, Chief Dallas “Dak” Kelp said. Without it, they’d struggle to reach higher than a second floor.

The 30-year volunteer firefighter can’t remember a time when a ladder of that height was needed at a fire rescue, but firefighters had trouble retrieving a man who was having a seizure on a roof late last year, he said.

Having the tools to do those rescues is becoming a bigger concern with a three-story senior apartment building going up next door to the three-story Willow Manor senior apartments, he said.

This truck also allows firefighters to fight a large fire — such as at the Little Nashville Opry in 2009 or The Seasons Lodge in 2007 — from the air. The ladder can carry 500 pounds plus 1,000 gallons of water flowing off it, Kelp said.

The nearly $60,000 purchase price, plus some repairs, was paid with Brown County Fire cumulative firefighting funds, which the town collects from Nashville property owners. Kelp said the total cost was less than one-tenth the cost of a new aerial truck.

Another new truck may be coming later this year. The Washington Township Advisory Board voted in February to start the process to buy a multipurpose vehicle for fire and accident scenes.

The model firefighters are looking at can dispense firefighting foam, carry 500 gallons of water and extrication equipment, act as a generator and light source, maneuver into areas too tight for a regular-sized engine, and fill firefighters’ air tanks at a pressure that could last them for two or three fires instead of 20 to 30 minutes.

The estimated cost is $400,000. Washington Township Trustee Brandon Magner said that until he speaks with banks about financing, he won’t know how much of a loan will be needed or how much it might cost township taxpayers.

To help pay for it, Brown County Fire is unloading two trucks: Rescue 16 — which is still for sale — and Engine 11, a 1993 pumper-tanker which Jackson Township taxpayers bought.


Brown County Fire’s Engine 11 is now Fruitdale Volunteer Fire Department’s Engine 35.The Jackson Township cumulative fire fund covered the $25,000 purchase. Brown County Fire kicked in several pieces of equipment.

Jackson Township taxpayers support two fire departments: Fruitdale in Bean Blossom and Jackson Township in Helmsburg. A shared, cumulative fire fund was established in 2013, and each year, about $40,000 of township property tax money flows into it to be used for firefighting equipment, Jackson Township Trustee Sandy Higgins said.

Engine 11 had helped to fight every major fire in the past 23 years in Nashville: Park Square Mall, Parkview Church of the Nazarene, the Opry and The Seasons, Kelp said.

Kelp got misty-eyed while talking about selling it. Brown County firefighters dedicated it on the same day he brought home his son from the hospital. He stopped at the fire department before he actually took the baby — who’s now a firefighter — home.

At Fruitdale Fire — which covers the eastern half of Jackson Township — Engine 35 will mostly be used as a pumper, Chief Kevin Sebastian said. Their 1972 pumper-tanker didn’t pump anymore and hasn’t been used in three years; it’s one of two trucks Fruitdale now has for sale.

Two other trucks have been added to Fruitdale’s fleet in the past few weeks: A 1991 engine from Morgantown — Engine 31 — and a 1986 tanker from Whiteland. Both are being bought with money from bingo, fish fries and other fundraisers, for a total of $25,500.

The tanker was $500. Sebastian said it runs, and the equipment that came with it is worth more than that.

Fruitdale now has the vehicles to move 5,000 gallons of water in one trip, Assistant Chief Alvin Luster said.

Engines 31 and 35 will be the first to roll on any house fire, in Fruitdale’s coverage area and beyond, Sebastian said.

If more money were found, Sebastian said Fruitdale could still use a new medical/brush truck, because it has some taller firefighters who don’t fit in the one they have very well.

“Originally, I wanted to look for a new brush truck, and I ended up with two engines and a tanker, and I still don’t have a brush truck,” Sebastian said with a laugh.

Jackson Township

The first weekend in March, Glenn Elmore flew to New York and drove home in a shiny red rescue truck.The 1998 with 13,787 miles was bought for $30,000 with Jackson Township cumulative funds.

It belonged to a fire department near Buffalo. Elmore said it was set up to deal with mass casualties on a freeway.

Here, it could be used for a variety of scenarios, the chief said, climbing inside to show a setup much like an ambulance, with flip-down cots, compartments for storing medical supplies, and a lit counter near a window from which a firefighter could command an emergency scene.

If it went to a flood rescue, several victims could fit inside to warm up. If it responded to a house fire in July, the homeowners and the firefighters could rest and cool down in there.

The new rescue will be one of the first vehicles firefighters will jump into to go on a medical call, Elmore said.

With Brown County Fire no longer providing first responder service after this month, Jackson firefighters — who are all medically trained — could be called upon more often.

Elmore said the truck also could be used to transport patients to a hospital, but many steps remain before that could be done.

He said the vehicle will be useful on missing-person missions. He showed outlets that can be strung from the side compartments and plugged into lights, and a telescoping, rotating light bar that extends high above the truck.

“We don’t have anything like this. This will be huge for us,” Elmore said.

The new rescue is replacing a 40-year-old box truck that had been used as Jackson’s mobile command center, until it quit running. The department also plans to sell 38-year-old Engine 53.

This is Jackson Fire’s second vehicle addition in the past year. Last spring, the department bought a “quint” truck entirely through private donations.

Its 50-foot ladder can place firefighters on a roof for venting a fire, and firefighters were training to use it for rescues — although it requires a pretty large space to be used in that way, Elmore said.

The quint also allows firefighters to shoot water at a fire from a safe distance on the ground, which is especially useful in the case of a railroad fire, he said.

Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.