ELLERBE — Town officials met with representatives of Pee Dee Electric on Wednesday, hoping for help financing a $685,000 fire truck. The utility board will consider the request today.
The E-One truck from First Connections Inc. is what Mayor Lee Berry calls the Swiss Army knife of fire trucks — a pumper, tanker and rescue vehicle in one. That’s just what Ellerbe needs, Berry and Fire Chief Will Barber said Wednesday.
“We were aiming to take one truck out and have anything we needed on a call,” Barber said, whether it be a fire or wreck.
Because Ellerbe firefighters are volunteers, only one or two men may respond immediately to a call — most have other jobs — and would need access to an array of equipment before more help arrived, he said.
A committee worked almost two years to determine what the town wanted in a truck, Barber said. And the E-One was just what it hoped to find.
The truck is on order, but the town has yet make the 10 percent down payment, Berry said. That should come within six months, he said.
Ellerbe paid off its latest truck purchase last year. It began the bidding process for the new truck and chose Fire Connections a year ago, but it has been saving for the truck since well before then.
“We’ve been putting money back for the last three years,” Berry said.
The new truck will have a variety of tools the typical fire truck does not.
“When we get a call on (U.S.) 220, we go out for a fire with a fire truck,” he said. But what if the fire is the result of a car crash? Firefighters may not have the “jaws of life,” as they would on the new truck.
Berry said: “Ellerbe has a lot to do for a small town.” It must provide fire coverage for two schools, two factories and a mill, as well as “a major highway” running alongside town.
“For a volunteer station, there’s a whole lot going on,” he said.
As an example, Berry said, town maintenance supervisor Wendell Robinson — also a volunteer firefighter — answered two calls Tuesday. One was a burning chicken house and the other, a highway collision.
“Wendell Robinson is first class when it comes to making the town click,” Berry said.
Imagine what he could do with the Swiss Army knife of fire trucks.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.