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Collins Chapel fire adds new truck to arsenal

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

Collins Chapel Fire and Rescue now has another valuable tool to help them when it comes to fighting fires in their coverage area of Chilton County.

Collins Chapel purchased a new (to them) fire truck from another department in Savannah, Georgia, on April 27.

Paramedic Anthony Marcus said he was made aware of the truck by a fellow member of an organization.

“I have a membership of the Southern Vintage Fire Apparatus Association in Birmingham,” Marcus said. “We take retired fire trucks, stuff like that (to show to people). One of the guys sent me a text and said ‘Hey, we are not interested in this truck, but your fire department may be.’ He is in Atlanta, Georgia. He sent me pictures of it.”

Marcus said he told fire chief Jay Littleton of the truck, and Littleton brought the potential purchase before the board of directors.

“They told us to go down and look at it,” Marcus said. “We made sure everything worked on it like it was supposed to. We called the board president, and he said ‘if y’all like it, get it.’ We went ahead and signed the paper. We told them we’d take it back to Clanton.

“It cost $7,000. That’s the reason I kind of bit at it. We can’t afford to let that go. When I called chief, he said ‘tell them we’ll be there Saturday.’ We left out at 3 a.m. Saturday morning. We came back about midnight. Come Sunday, I was barely able to move.”

While the “new” truck may be around 18 years old, Marcus said it was barely used by its previous owners.

“It’s a 2001 Pierce truck,” he said. “It’s basically brand new. It was used by a small department. It’s got 1,000 gallons of water and a compressed air foam system on it. It’s pretty much everything we need for any fire we have. It’s newer and more dependable than the trucks we have.”

Marcus said the 1,000-gallon capacity is larger than the current truck, and the foam system brings an entirely new capability to the department. While water may be used to fight more traditional fires, foam is used when the fire is electrical or chemical in nature, including on vehicles.

“We ran a wreck on the interstate last year where an 18-wheeler overturned over by the rest area,” he said. “We called Clanton because they were the only department we knew of that would carry foam on their trucks. Their truck didn’t have any foam, so we had to wait on Calera to come and bring us foam to put on the (18-wheeler) before we could try to unload it and move it. Otherwise, it was an explosion hazard. We can handle it now. We’re ready.”

Marcus said Collins Chapel, which is located at 13195 County Road 29 between Clanton and Thorsby, covers all the way from the northern edge of the Clanton city limits on Highway 31 to County Road 50 to the Thorsby city limits as well as down County Road 29 to the Jemison city limits.

“The first-out engine we run right now is between a ’70s and ’80s model engine remounted to a 1999-2000 Freightliner truck,” he said. “(The new truck) is more dependable. It’s got 30,000 miles. That’s what the odometer shows.”

One other major advantage the new truck has is a custom-made cab and a smaller nose than an average large commercial truck.

“We can get it in more places,” Marcus said. “The truck is going to have more water on it. It will help out other departments. Can have four outfitted firefighters in the back plus the officer riding beside the driver.”