10/09/05 — Fremont firefighters get special response vehicle

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Fremont firefighters get special response vehicle

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on October 9, 2005 2:03 AM

FREMONT -- Fremont's volunteer firefighters now can ride in style and carry much of their equipment in their new special response vehicle.

The 43-foot truck was turned over to the department Friday. It will be displayed from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. today during the department's 100th anniversary celebration.

"This means we're stepping up to the future," Fire Chief Donnie Wilkerson said. "We'll now be better able to answer more calls, and we'll be more efficient. It just gives us a quality truck that will last us for many years."

The truck not only hauls firefighters and equipment, but it also offers command capabilities for Fremont and nearby departments.

The truck replaced two aging vehicles -- a 1979 utility truck that was a converted bread truck and a 1981 truck that was used for extrications.

"We had two old trucks we had to replace," Wilkerson said. "They were in bad shape. When trucks become a liability, you have to make a move."

The $291,886 cost will be paid by a $250,000 low-interest loan, a $40,000 federal grant and a $1,886 town match.

Ed Causey, the area director for U.S. Agriculture Department's Rural Development, said the 20-year loan would be repaid at 4.125 percent interest. "That's the lowest rate I can recall for this program," he said.

Causey presented a symbolic, oversized check to Wilkerson and Mayor Devone Jones as town aldermen and firefighters looked on.

"It's a great truck," Jones said. "I'm proud of them. They worked hard to get it. I have great respect for the firefighters because they put in a lot of time."

The C.W. Williams Co. of Rocky Mount oversaw the building of the truck. Jim Edwards, the company president, said the entire project took about nine months. Some parts were made by the Hackney Co. of Washington, N.C. Edwards' company made sure the truck was built to the correct specifications.

The truck can carry a driver, an officer and five other firefighters. It has a 25-watt generator to power a 14-foot light tower that even has a remote control. Each side has doors that open compartments with shelves that slide out. It has six, 6,000-pound bottles of air that can be refilled. Extrication tools are carried on the back with smaller, mobile gas and electric generators.

A small refrigerator may be installed in one space to carry bottles of water.

Firefighter David Pate, the department chaplain, summed up the thoughts of many, saying, "We now have equipment that we're proud of."