Lincoln Township buys fire truck

LINCOLN TOWNSHIP — It’s said the only difference between grown men and little boys is the cost of their toys.

Watching the expressions on the faces of grown men telling about two newer fire trucks makes you shudder at the thought of the cost of those toys. But don’t.

Although their eyes light up, in this case the difference between the older trucks and these newer ones is a huge price. Without them, the price could become unbearable. Likely at some point, a matter of life and death.

The Lincoln Township Fire Department in Osceola County spent a long time nursing the 1979 and 1980 fire trucks along over the years. Getting by.

Finally, the 1980, only 31 years old, mind you, had a damaged front, froze up, and when an insurance analysis was done on it, they were told it wasn’t worth fixing because of its age. The insurance figure was $10,000.

It was a given they needed another good truck. They knew it would cost a lot of money. The cost of brand new trucks was impossible. Half a million. So started the hunt for maybe a good used one.

Finally, they took a figure of $120,000 to the township board.

The board heard them out. Approved the figure. Then the board gave the task of finding one back to the department.

It wasn’t long before their search zeroed in on a couple. One truck was a pumper in Pennsylvania. The other a tanker in Reno. One was a 1995. The other a 1997.

The pumper had a $117,000 price tag, but negotiations brought it down to $97,500. It would be delivered for $1,000.

They still had their eye on that tanker in Reno, though, and wondered what they could get it for. The asking price was $35,000. They offered Reno $25,000. They came down to $28,000.

So with the $120,000 approved by the Lincoln Township Board and $10,000 from the insurance company, that gave them $130,000 with which to work.

The fire department came up with a pumper for $98,500 including delivery from PA and a tanker to pickup in Reno for $28,000. Those two amounts totaled $126,500.

There was the cost of fetching the Reno truck, maybe a sandwich on the way to or from.

They had not seen the vehicle out West, “so it was all adrenalin out and back. We went 2,100 miles and when we looked it all over, we decided we wanted it for sure. It had all the equipment and everything on it, and all it lacked was a radio and a siren.”

One member quipped that he figured they could put their hand out the window and pretend to be cranking a siren, “and go wheeeeeoooooowwww and yell back and forth until we could afford a radio for it.”

Now the firemen have dependable units, eight vehicles to be exact. One perfect for grass fires, another for rescue, backup units, full firefighting setups and 16 fire personnel ready to roll.

Scott Hilgeman is the captain and safety officer for the department, and David Ragalzki is the assistant chief. Jack Burton is liaison/trustee on the board. Additional board members include Dwight Gingrich, Beverly Proefrock, and Sonia Peters.

Sound a bit like a familiar story? Only in this case it would be the little fire department that thought it could. And did. As Gingrich said, the key was working together and having faith it could happen. “It sure did,” There was other possibility of a bit of a glitch. They weren’t sure the big rig would even fit in the fire barn. Inches to spare. No sweat.