Area community needs new rig

Published 08/12 2013 05:07PM

Updated 08/12 2013 05:42PM

LONGVIEW -- People usually turn to first responders when they have an emergency, but one Champaign County Fire Department is sending out a call for help for problems of its own. Longview's pumper truck is more than 20-years old. The fire chief says it's no longer dependable. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera has more.

They've already spent more than $40,000 fixing it. The biggest issue is a leaking pump. Even at its best, it still doesn't have the gear to put out a car fire on its own.

So, village leaders are turning to the government to help get a new one. Their truck may seem ready to hit the road, but if you look a little closer, you'll notice the pumper is past its prime.

"We took it out for a call and it got stuck on a call," said fire chief Keith Miller. "It wouldn't build air pressure."

That was just last month. And mechanical issues are just the beginning. The back seat isn't enclosed, which leaves firefighters out in the elements when they ride to a call.

"That's uncomfortable to say the least," said Miller. "To have to ride back there in the cold and in the conditions."

"This truck will probably not survive two years with the money we keep funneling into it," said fire trustee Jim Jones. 

That's why Longview Fire is reaching out to local leaders like John Shimkus, Chapin Rose and Adam Brown. They need a grant from FEMA to foot the bill for a new truck.

"We have no funding available whatsoever to replace this truck, other than with some assistance from the federal government," said Jones. 

The first responders hope they can get the help they need, so they can keep helping their community.

"We want to ensure our firefighters are safe," said Jones. "We want to ensure that once our firefighters get to the scene, the community is safe, and that's all we're asking for is the apparatus to ensure our community's safety."

A new truck would cost about $300,000, but leaders are still waiting to hear if they'll be able to get the money.

To help struggling volunteer fire departments, a grant program has been set up. The Illinois Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program is giving out $230,000 statewide. A single department, serving less than 10,000 people can apply. Money can be used for equipment or training. The deadline to apply is in six months.

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