This retired Middletown fire engine will soon be saving lives in the Caribbean

The Middletown Division of Fire recently donated an old fire engine that was taken out of service to a Caribbean island nation during a presentation at fire headquarters.

Assistant Chief Tom Snively made the presentation to Howie Prince, consulate general of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the U.S., on Aug. 21.

The 1997 Luverne fire engine was taken out of front line service in 2009 and out of reserve status in July when the city received two new fire engines. When it was on front line service, the fire engine with a 1,000 gallon water tank was housed at the station on Dixie Highway.

“Unfortunately it could not keep up with the pace here in Middletown, however it’s still a functioning apparatus that we can send somewhere else that they can use it,” Snively said.

“We therefore look forward to the opportunity to be able to provide, based on your donations and other donations which we expect to follow in the future, the possibility for our people at the rural levels to have that kind of service at their disposal,” Prince said.

“So your donation of a fire truck here today along with other useful firefighting equipment will go a long way to provide very useful services. “

He said if the fire engine can be used on the island for another five years, “there is no telling how many lives it would have saved and one life that is saved is enough for it to be in existence.”

While there is modern firefighting equipment and vehicles at the nation’s airports and larger cities, Prince said there are rural areas areas where some fire vehicles are a pickup truck with a tank of water, generator and a small hose.

“We are extremely grateful for your donation and we can assure you that it will be put into exceptionally good use on the island of St. Vincent and Grenadines,” he said.

Prince said in the next few weeks, the fire truck will be driven or put on a flatbed and taken to Miami where heavy shipments are taken for transport to Caribbean island nations.

Middletown Fire Chief Paul Lolli said the nation does not have any modern fire apparatus, and its current fire engine is a pickup truck with a small water tank in the truck bed.

“We are pleased to be able to extend the life of this fire engine, giving St. Vincent and the Grenadines an improved way to fight fires in the future,” Lolli said.

The Division of Fire has made other donations of old firefighting gear and breathing equipment on several occasions in the past to the Dominican Republic and other nations’ firefighting and police services. This was equipment and gear that no longer met National Fire Protection Association standards and therefore could not be used in the United States, officials said.

The donation was facilitated by Walter Cook, a Cincinnati Fire Department fire apparatus operator who works on the bomb squad downtown. Cook, who is also teaches firefighting at Butler Tech and has worked for the past six years with U.S. fire departments to donate equipment to Caribbean nations. He saw the need after attending a fire chief’s convention in Trinidad and Tobago in 2014.

Cook’s efforts has helped to transfer eight fire trucks, an ambulance and equipment that has filled four 40-foot shipping containers and three 20-foot shipping containers that has helped various nations such as Panama, the Dominican Republic and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Cook has also helped train firefighters and sent literature to the Bahamas, St. Lucia, the British Virgin Islands and St. Kitts.

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