Volunteers Rebuild Wreck, Get Rescue Unit for $6000

Volunteers Rebuild Wreck, Get Rescue Unit for $6000

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Fire Fighter Reliance Hose Company Middleburg, Pa.

Small volunteer fire departments usually face a host of financial problems when it comes time to update apparatus.

A Snyder County, Pa., fire company recently found a unique way, though, to replace its aging rescue unit—for little more than $6000!

For that amount, the Reliance Hose Company of Middleburg placed in service a rescue truck whose value unequipped is more than $18,000. How was this accomplished in these days of ever-rising prices?

“We took an ambulance which had been heavily damaged in a traffic accident and repaired and converted it,” explained Assistant Chief Dennis Reigle of the volunteer company, which protects the small borough of Middleburg and a surrounding township with two engines, a 2000-gallon pumper-tanker, the rescue truck, and an ambulance.

Chassis, cab undamaged

The damaged modular ambulance was owned by an emergency squad in a nearby city until it skidded on an icy road last winter and struck a utility pole. The chassis and cab were untouched, but the unit’s module, or box, was heavily damaged.

“We were able to purchase the truck for $4,200,” said Reigle. “We spend about $2000 for exterior repairs.”

That was a real savings for the company, and fire fighters compounded it by doing the remaining remodeling themselves. More than 25 volunteers worked a night or two each week for three months, rewiring and insulating the module and installing new interior surfaces.

Using donated materials, fire fighters equipped the rescue truck with special shelving and brackets for portable lights, rope, fire extinguishers, electrical cord, and sections of soft suction hose.

A long platform was constructed to hold a portable pump, electric generator, back-pack pump tanks, light-cord reel, and a backboard for accident victims. Part of the rear of the platform was left open as a housing for hard suction hose for the portable pump.

“A cabinet and a squad bench were left in the ambulance, which turned out to be fortunate for us,” said Reigle.

Storage under bench

Rakes, shovels, backboards, and a portable stretcher were stored under the bench, while the cabinet provides space for emergency medical equipment, such as a large trauma kit.

The exterior design of the ambulance also proved helpful, to the fire fighters. An outside compartment which housed the oxygen supply for patients now contains a compressed air cascade system for refilling breathing apparatus cylinders on the fireground. Several other exterior compartments are used for storage of portable floodlamps, hydraulic rescue tool kit and an exhaust fan.

And the additional space the new truck provides over the company’s former rescue van has spurred company members to discuss the purchase of additional rescue equipment.

“All in all,” said Reigle, “it’s a pretty impressive unit for only $6000.

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