The Smith Township Fire Department (STFD) donated their rescue truck, a 1979 Chevrolet 1-ton van with a utility bed on the back, to the Richland Township Fire Department in Earl Park, Indiana–located northwest of Lafayette.
The donation process began back in July, when the STFD put out a flier through the Indiana State Fire Marshall’s Office and on a couple of firefighter websites, to make others aware that the department was looking for a fire department in need of a rescue truck.
The department received a total of 24 applications–everywhere from Maine to Texas, and even one from Mexico.
“We figured we would get a few responses, but not the amount that we did,” said Smith Township Fire Department Fire Chief Roger Bennett. “What surprised us is how far away some of the departments were that applied for it.”
Deciding the truck should stay in Indiana, a five-firefighter committee composed of Bruce Shanabarger, Wayne Krider, Chris Tomlinson, Larry Murphy and Bennett went through the Indiana applications, sending out a questionnaire to get a better feel for the needs of the department, what kind of area they served (size, population, any major highways) and current apparatus fleet, Bennett said. From there, the committee narrowed the search down to three departments, and then chose Richland Township.
Although the truck has some wear on it and had been used hard for the years that Smith Township had it, the rescue truck will greatly benefit the Richland Township Fire Department, Bennett said of the donation. They did not currently have a rescue truck and they had to carry their rescue tools on four other trucks.
“With a little TLC, it will work just great for them,” he said. “We had just outgrown the size of that truck and we could not carry everything on it that we wanted to.”
Responding to the donation, Bennett said the Richland Township Fire Department, which is a volunteer department, said this will be a Christmas they will not soon forget. They had the greatest need for a rescue truck, Bennett said, as the one they had earlier in the year was an old Ryder truck with some warning lights mounted on it, and they would just lay the equipment in the back of it. The STFD then received word that the Ryder truck was no longer usable and the Richland Township Fire Department returned it to the people they had borrowed it from.
“This helped us in making our decision,” Bennett said, “as the other departments had more and better apparatus than Richland Township.”
The rescue truck was purchased new in 1979 by Whitley County, before ownership was transferred to Smith Township in 1992.
The STFD also donated some fire hose nozzles, water fire extinguishers and some wood cribbing to the Richland Township Fire Department.
(Rescue Truck Donation–The Smith-Township Fire Department recently donated a rescue truck to Richland Township Fire Department from Earl Park, Ind. Shown, l-r, Tommy Bennett and Mark Jones – Richland Twp. Fire Dept., Roger Bennett – Chief STFD, Patty Amber – Smith Twp. Trustee.)