After Supertstorm Sandy severely damaged much of the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department’s equipment, including some fire trucks, support flooded in from all over the country.
Now, the volunteer organization is paying it forward by donating one of those trucks to their brothers upstate.
Mitch Udowitch, former captain of the WHBVFD, handed the keys of a four-wheel drive fire engine to Chuck Ptacek, first assistant chief of the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department.
“We’re really happy,” Udowitch said of being able to help out another department. “All of the volunteer fire departments, we’re a really close knit group. Whenever we can help each other out, we do.”
The fire truck was donated to the Queens department by the Larimer Fire Department, located in Pennsylvania, following the Oct. 29, 2012 storm.
It was one of many that came to the volunteers when they were in need.
Udowitch said the truck was only put into use once — to pump water out of people’s basements during the massive flooding that took place in Lindenwood last May.
Ptacek said his department will hopefully be able to put the four-wheel drive craft to good use. Many of their vehicles, he said, only have two-wheel drive.
“We have some really high-priced developments in some back-wooded areas,” Ptacek said in an interview with the Queens Chronicle outside the WHBVFD station house. “It’s hilly country and tough to get to. Two-wheel drives are just not going to get there.”
Ptacek added that a pump on the truck will be able to help his crew prevent house fires from becoming forest fires.
“We’ll have the capability with the pump to get the needed waters,” he said.
Ptacek made the near-five-hour drive from Hebron, located in Washington County, to Hamilton Beach early Wednesday morning.
After inspecting the vehicle and replacing its battery, Udowitch said the old one had died out long ago, Ptacek took it back up to Hebron along with his trusty canine sidekick, Lucky.
The two volunteer firefighters were able to connect after the Queens department put a story in the First Responders magazine, a monthly publication for fire departments, advertising that they had a truck available for a volunteer group in need of one.
Udowitch said when the WHBVFD got the truck close to two years ago, they were told by the Larimer firefighters that they did not want it back.
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