Once Stiffed Pennsylvania Department Gets Gift from Neighbors

Updated: 12-21-2006 05:43:32 PM

Courtesy of The Rocket Courier

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, Pa.-- Thanks to some incredible generosity by Laceyville's Good Will Fire Company, fellow firefighters in Schuylkill County got a Christmas present Wednesday that's putting big smiles on their faces.

What started as an unfortunate turn of events and bad luck for members of the Clover Volunteer Fire Company, located near Minersville in Schuylkill County, PA, turned out to have a very happy ending.

Earlier this year the Clover Fire Department learned that a $137,500 deposit they'd placed on a new fire engine had been lost when the company building the engine went bankrupt. The money included a $112,500 federal grant and about $25,000 in local funds.

The deposit was paid to New Lexington, a long-standing builder of firefighting equipment in Western Pennsylvania. The chassis was built by Spartan Motors of Michigan, but New Lexington never paid Spartan and that left the Clover Fire Company out in the cold when it came to getting its money back when New Lexington filed for bankruptcy and closed. The matter is under investigation by the FBI.

The Clover Fire Department has just 11 members and its other truck, a 1955 American LaFrance pumper, is on its last legs and breaks down most every time it's used. With its money gone and morale scraping the bottom, it looked like the company was out of business, but that's when members of Laceyville's Good Will Fire Company entered the picture.

Laceyville Fire Chief Scott Fisher said his company had just purchased a new truck earlier this year and had a 1987 KME pumper up for sale. "When we heard about Clover's bad luck, we decided to give them our old truck if they wanted it," Fisher said.

Brad Fassett, Laceyville assistant chief, said he and other members of the Good Will Fire Company felt blessed to have a new fire engine, but felt even better about giving their old truck to people who really needed it. "How do you think we would feel if someone lost their home or died in a fire because these guys didn't have a truck to fight the fire while we had a perfectly good fire engine going unused?" Fassett asked.

"We decided to give them a call and tell them if they wanted our truck it was theirs," Fisher said.

The donated truck is a 1987 KME custom chassis with a 1,000-gallon tank and 1,250 gpm pump, diesel generator, 600 feet of 1.5-inch hose and a 2000-gallon portable pond. Laceyville bought the truck used nine years ago and it's been well maintained. Laceyville had it for sale for $40,000. Clover Fire Company President Chris Kemmerling said he and other members of his fire company were overwhelmed by Laceyville's generosity. "It showed me what is really meant when people talk about the brotherhood of firefighters," Kemmerling said.

Kemmerling and other members of his company drove to Laceyville Wednesday afternoon and returned home that night with Laceyville's truck. "We feel if the situation were reversed they would help us in the same way," Fisher said.

Kemmerling said his company should have their new engine in service by the middle of next month. The Clover Fire Company responds to about one call each week.

Republished with permission of The Rocket Courier.

Niles English, President of Laceyville's Good Will Fire Company, front left, shakes hands with Chris Kemmerling
Courtesy of The Rocket Courier