Sparta firefighters unveil their new hot wheels

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:48

    SPARTA-A fire truck once belonging to the Plainview Volunteer Fire Department in Long Island, NY now has a new home with the Sparta volunteer fire department. The truck, a Sutphen 85-foot aerial bucket truck used to water down roofs with 1,500 gallons of water per minute, and also used for roof rescues, has been on the Sparta Fire Department 's wish list for some time now, but space had always been an issue until the construction of the new firehouse on Woodport Road. Knowing that a new truck of this kind, which could cost anywhere from $800,000 to a million dollars, was not in the current budget for Sparta, firefighter Bob Shugart approached its former employer - The Plainview Fire Department - where he served as a company captain, commissioner and chief of department. Shugart and his family moved to Sparta in 1998, and soon after he joined the Sparta Fire Department. "The chance to acquire a truck like this from the Plainview Fire Department was a great opportunity for the Sparta Township, and the timing was perfect, the new firehouse was finished and we could now house a large aerial truck," said Shugart. "Since the fire department in Plainview protected a large commercial area, they could appreciate the need for an aerial truck in a town the size of Sparta." Plainview is located on the eastern boarder of Nassau County. The fire department covers an area with 9,000 houses, 1,000 businesses, and three major highways. The department responds to more than 1,700 calls a year. Following meetings with Plainview Fire Department Commissioners, where Shugart presented Sparta's need for an aerial truck, including the department's capabilities, the make up of the town, the response times of the mutual aid departments and the township's need for a new school which would impact the town's ability to raise money to buy a new aerial truck, the NY commissioners agreed to offer the truck to Sparta at "a cost that would be afforable for private citizens and local businesses to purchase." Sparta donors declined to say how much the purchase price was. Sparta fire department officials decided to approach local businesses and individuals to help fund the purchase. "Living in Sparta for thirty years, I felt I knew who might be interested in contributing to the purchase. It's a great piece of equipment to train on, it will serve us well," said firefighter Andy Smetana, who was in charge of recruiting donors. The Sparta business community responded to the call for aid from the fire department. Large donations were made by Wm. H. Wilson Septic Tank Service, Robert Nicholson of Eastern Propane, the Cofrancesco family, the Grinnell Family Companies, and Richard Sullivan from Total Distribution Services of NJ. "We are pleased to be able to make this contribution to the township for this equipment that can lead to the saving of lives and property," said Robert Nicholson of Eastern Propane in a letter to the fire department. "We've been in business in Sparta since the 50s and have worked with the fire department in many ways over the years. We appreciate all their hard work and efforts, while sacrificing their time for the well being and safety of the residents. This is just a small token of our appreciation," said Dan Wilson from Wm. H. Wilson Septic Tank Service. According to fire officials, the aerial truck will give the Sparta Fire Department the ability to provide better fire protection to buildings such as the new middle school, the town hall, the commercial complexes off Route 15, and the businesses in the middle of Lake Mohawk. It will also aid residential fires by providing additional salvage covers and steadier hand ladders for roof operations. Prior to the purchase of this new truck, Sparta was dependent on the assistance from better equipped fire trucks from Newton or Vernon. "Many people don't realize the different roles fire trucks have at a fire. Some of these roles for the new aerial bucket truck are to get firefighters on the roof of a building quickly to assess the chance of the roof collapsing onto the firefighters inside, locating firewalls, and cutting holes in the roof to allow superheated gases to escape thus lowering the chance of back drafts, and letting the smoke escape so firefighters inside have a better chance of finding victims. This truck is also capable of spraying 1,500 gallons of water per minute at the fire from directly above to reduce the chance of the fire spreading to adjacent stores or buildings," said Shugart. Residents or businesses interested in making a donation to purchase the $15,000 in tools needed to get the truck fully operational are asked to contact Bob Shugart at 973-725-2829 or the Sparta Fire Department.