Local fire companies donate trucks to peers struck by tragedy
Last month, the Millsboro Volunteer Fire Company voted to donate their 1981 E-One Telesquirt fire truck to Bloxom Fire Company in Bloxom, Va.
“The first company that came to mind was Bloxom Fire Company down in Bloxom, Va.,” said Ron O’Neil, president of MVFC. “Those guys have had a string of bad luck here lately. In 2006, their firehouse burned to the ground. They lost their firehouse and two ambulances. They just now got back into it in October of last year, and in July of this year, they had an accident where one of their members was killed and their pumper was severely damaged.”
Millsboro had been in the process of trying to sell their 1981 apparatus, as it had just been replaced by a 2012 E-One Typhoon 78-foot ladder truck. However, when they heard of the Bloxom company’s misfortune, they decided to offer the apparatus to them instead.
“We heard about it through the news, and some of the companies up here went down there to support them and fill in while they were having the funeral,” explained Millsboro Fire Chief Matt Warrington. “Millsboro didn’t go down to stand by for them, but some of the other local departments did.
“They were operating a backup, a second fire truck that they had that wasn’t in very good mechanical shape. In speaking with them, we found out what kind of condition their other equipment was in and decided to send our truck down there to give them a hand.”
Many people in the fire service community reached out to Bloxom after they heard of the company’s troubles.
“We had an older truck, and when we were coming back from an accident and we were pulling into the building the transmission went completely on us,” recalled Jody Bagwell, chief of the Bloxom Fire Department. “Our truck got wrecked, and people heard we were down a truck.
“We received a call from Millsboro, and they had a truck sitting there and knew that we needed one. They called us up and asked if we had some interest in it, and that they were willing to donate it to us.”
Bagwell said the kindness didn’t end with Millsboro, as his department also received trucks from Millsboro’s neighbors in Selbyville, who offered up their truck on Labor Day, and from the Parsonsburg, Va., fire company.
Warrington said the Bloxom Fire Company was very appreciative of Millsboro’s support and donation.
“They actually came up here. They sent six or seven guys up, and we spent an evening going over the truck, how to operate it, handed it over to them and they drove it back home.”
“Those guys came up here, and they were like kids in a candy store. They were thrilled,” added O’Neil.
Warrington said the main reason the 1981 truck was replaced was due to expansion of the population in the Millsboro area, which has resulted in taller structures being built.
“We replaced it mainly because the three-story buildings that have been built in town here over the past couple of years,” he said. “In the building expansion, they started building three-story townhomes. There are probably a half-dozen developments in our fire district that have multiple three-story townhomes that we couldn’t reach with our old ladder truck. Back in 1981, the biggest thing around was a two-story farmhouse, with a few exceptions. We thought it was necessary to buy a larger truck to accommodate them.”
This isn’t the first time Millsboro has donated equipment to other companies in need. In 1981, Millsboro donated pumpers to companies affected by Hurricane Hugo.
“We did it years ago. I think it was Hurricane Hugo that came through the Carolinas and destroyed a lot of fire apparatus and firehouses down there, and we donated two pumpers that we were in the process of replacing,” said Warrington.
He added that it doesn’t matter what the situation is, or if the company has ties to another company — if they can help, they will.
“We just happened to be in a position to help them. It didn’t matter who it was, if another fire company needed something that we could live without, we’d be happy to help them.”
Bagwell noted that fire department funding varies greatly and said he is humbled by the communities’ support.
“The departments in America vary. Some of them have a lot of money, some don’t. When a company that has a smaller budget is able to receive something of that magnitude, it’s really a morale-builder for our department.”
He added that, although he didn’t know any of the members from the donating departments before their generous gifts, he is grateful for the kindness and how it will benefit his community.
“The fire-hood is pretty much a brotherhood,” said Bagwell. “When one is down, another comes to their aid, and that’s what our brothers to the north did. They knew we had a need and came to our need. That makes the fire service what it is now. We definitely appreciate what all the departments have done for us. It’s going to benefit our community, and we’ll be able to do our job without stressing a whole lot.”