Donated trucks saving county bucks

Published 6:48 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BEING PUT TO GOOD USE is a surplus Georgia Forestry truck that was donated to the Black Jack Volunteer Fire Department to be used as a brush fire tanker truck. From the left, standing in the door, is Forestry Ranger Bryan Cottles, who is also a Black Jack volunteer firefighter, Decatur County Fire Chief Charlie McCann, Forestry’s Mitigation Specialist Tina Nix and Chief Forestry Ranger Rodney Heard.

A brush fire truck that Decatur County received for a third of the price of an original one made its inaugural response call on Saturday.

The 1994 truck replaces a 1968 truck, and it is based at the Black Jack Volunteer Fire Department on Mills Road.

“If we had to buy this tanker on the market from a vendor, we would be looking at $100,000, if not more,” said Decatur County Fire Chief Charlie McCann.

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But instead, the Georgia Forestry Commission’s Rural Fire Defense program is providing surplus fire-fighting equipment to rural counties. The engine the county received was converted into a brush pump truck that can be driven by one firefighter while another firefighter operates the water hose. The truck’s water tank capacity is 1,650 gallons, versus the old truck’s 500-gallon capacity.

And what’s even better, Decatur County is getting two more trucks, whereas most counties receive only one, said local Forestry Chief Ranger Rodney Heard. Besides Black Jack, the Kendrick and Mount Pleasant volunteer fire departments are scheduled to receive the new vehicles, which will also be converted into brush fire pump trucks.

McCann said the county has budgeted $60,000 to renovate the next two trucks, and he credits Forestry’s Mitigation Specialist Tina Nix for ensuring Decatur County received the three.

The truck’s tanks are made in Forestry’s Macon office, and it usually takes approximately six months from the time a county receives the surplus truck to the time it is delivered to the local fire departments.