The chief and three fellow members of the Port Crane Fire Company left their homes in rural, upstate Broome County at 4 a.m. on Friday to drive nearly 300 miles to Southampton Village to accept a gift—a shiny red fire truck to replace the repurposed fuel delivery vehicle they had been using.
Waiting for them at the village’s central garage on Willow Street that morning was a 1978 2,500-gallon tanker in candy-apple red.
The Southampton Fire Department, whose vehicles get replaced regularly, had stopped using the truck about two years ago and decided to donate it to a department in need. The Village Board gave the go-ahead.
An initial idea to send it to Florida fell through. Then, Southampton was paired with Port Crane through the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund, an up-island non-profit that seeks to support firefighters and is named after a Fire Department of New York member who died fighting fires and rescuing victims at the World Trade Center on September, 11, 2001. The North Sea Fire District in August 2011 donated a pumper through the same program to the Pyrites Fire Department in Canton, in upstate St. Lawrence County.
“This program benefits departments like us in rural, upstate New York so much, words can’t even describe what a tremendous benefit this is going to be to us,” said Tom Sheridan, the assistant chief for Port Crane, in between admiring the truck under Friday’s bright sunny sky. “Our operating budget’s very small because we don’t have the tax base as other departments in more populated areas have.”
Efforts to get grants to replace their current vehicle—a 13-speed standard transmission that Port Crane Chief Kevin Kresge called “unusable” were rejected, one by one. Another rejection came just recently.
“When this became available to us, it was almost like Christmas all over again,” Mr. Sheridan said with smile.
Friday was the official hand-off.
Southampton Fire Department Chief Dennis Roy and Chief Kresge signed a gift receipt on the back of the pumper.
Chief Kresge, along with Mr. Sheridan, Zach Kark, a firefighter, and safety officer Earl Drury, circled the truck several times taking it all in. They opened its compartments, poked its tires, tested out the driver’s seat, examined its gadgetry, and climbed on top of it. They and the village officials joshed about finding a cobweb. They credited Kenny Zeh, the supervisor of the central garage, for keeping it in tip-top shape and ribbed him as well. They credited 2nd Assistant Chief Chris Brenner for his legwork. They posed for photos.
“This is a great opportunity for us to help out a sister department that has a significant need,” said Village Mayor Mark Epley.
John Cause, a Southampton firefighter and supervisor of the village’s Building Maintenance Department, said the truck was used to help extinguish the massive Sunrise Wildfire that scored acre upon acre in the western part of Southampton Town in 1995.
“It’s going to find a nice home,” said Village Trustee Richard Yastrzemski, the board’s liaison to the fire department.” This is replacing a converted oil truck like the trucks that deliver oil to your home. That’s what they were using.”
A lack of a hydrant system in Port Crane intensifies the need for pumpers, he added.
Asked about his favorite feature on his new truck, Chief Kresge replied with enthusiasm, “The fact that it’s red. We don’t have red fire trucks.”
The vehicles in Port Crane are lime-yellow, he explained.
Sure enough, his department’s website is headlined by a truck in none other than a brilliant shade of chartreuse. “We’re slowly moving into ripe apples,” the chief chuckled.