Donated fire truck will be a boon to Marion County R-2 Fire Department

Damon Jaeger, assistant fire chief for Marion County R-ll Fire Department in Philadelphia, Mo. points out some features on the fire truck the department just acquired from BASF in Palmyra. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
Michael Kipley 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 25, 2017 4:45 pm

PHILADELPHIA, Mo. -- The Marion County R-2 Fire Department has a new piece of equipment in its firefighting arsenal.

A 1988 Smeal pumper truck recently was donated to the department by the BASF plant in Palmyra.

Though the fire truck is nearly 29 years old and not actually "new," it nevertheless is a welcome addition to the volunteer department's limited fleet.

The little-used truck only has about 6,000 miles of wear and tear and has been carefully maintained over the years.

"It never really left the BASF plant, so it has very few hours on it, and most of those are going to be training hours and annual inspections and testing," said Damon Jaeger, the department's deputy chief.

"It's in really great condition, and it's going to last us for many years to come."

Jaeger said the Philadelphia-based fire department "has a very small operating budget" and couldn't afford to buy a new fire truck. "So this is going to help us out immensely with our emergency responses," he said.

BASF, which operates a large chemical plant east of Palmyra near the Mississippi River, used the fire truck as part of its emergency response unit in case a fire, hazardous material spill or other emergency were to occur.

Peter Waddington, site manager for BASF, said the company recently reviewed its safety equipment and decided to buy a new fire truck better suited for the plant's specific needs.

"We are always looking for ways to improve what we do," he said.

"The truck that we're talking about has been working here for a long time, and it's actually served us pretty well. But from a technical point of view, the truck is actually better suited for a more agricultural service rather than industrial. So we looked to get ourselves a different type of truck that is more suited to our particular needs."

Since it no longer needed the old fire truck, the company decided to offer it a local fire department in need of equipment. "We realized this could be of great service to them," Waddington said.

Jaeger said the Marion County R-2 Fire Department heard BASF was offering the truck and immediately expressed interest. Fire officials were delighted when BASF agreed to give the truck to the department at no cost.

"It worked out just perfectly," Jaeger said. "It's a great thing for a company like BASF to assist a volunteer fire department within their area."

Jaeger said the 1988-model fire truck is a welcome addition to the department, which already had two pumper trucks. The former BASF truck filled a need because it has two engines -- one to spray water from a 1,500-gallons-per-minute pump while the other engine can keep the truck moving.

"This truck is considered a true ‘pump-and-roll' truck," Jaeger said. "During a brush fire, that truck can drive along the fire line while firefighters on the ground can fight the fire and drag the hose line next to the apparatus as they fight that fire."

Jaeger said the new truck not only will help with brush fires but also structure fires.

Fire Chief Kevin Ransom agrees the additional truck will come in handy when the department is called to major fires, including events when mutual aid is sought from neighboring fire departments.

"We'll have that extra water capacity while waiting for other resources to get there," he said. "We'll have a little more water on the scene."

Ransom expressed gratitude to BASF for providing the extra truck.

"You've got a well-maintained unit that will make a nice complement to what we've already got in the house," he said. "It will be nice to have another piece of equipment to help us do our job."

The new truck is being house inside the department's three-bay fire station in Philadelphia.

"When we built the new firehouse several years ago, we made room for additional equipment, and right now we've got all of our bays full," Ransom said.

Jaeger said he expects the new truck will go into service in early 2018.

"We're in the process of equipping it out with new equipment, then we'll start the process of training our personnel on it before we put it in service," he said.