Rural Missouri - February 2014 - (Page 14)
another rural department as an upgrade to their
1958 International, and that truck upgraded another
rural department's 1946 Ford.
"It may not seem like people are getting a much
better truck, but to the volunteer ﬁreﬁghters, it's
often like getting a brand new vehicle," says the
Over the years, Carl's been able to help match up
equipment donations from departments in Iowa,
Illinois, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
and New York to help his and other rural Missouri
volunteer ﬁre departments stay prepared.
According to Carl, this isn't a not-for-proﬁt group
or a proﬁt-making business. "I'm just the middle
man, and it's the right thing to do to help fellow
volunteer departments in need," he says.
The little town of Livonia, about 15 miles from
Queen City, is home to the Grant Township Volunteer Fire Protection District. The department has
been on the receiving end of truck and equipment
upgrades from Carl's efforts.
"There was a time years ago when we probably
couldn't have put out a lit match with the gear
we had," says Dave Johniatis, Livonia's volunteer
chief. "We're running a '75 Mac from an Illinois ﬁre
department now. It's not new, but the old girl likes
to ﬁght ﬁres.
"If we need something, I'll call Carl and see if
anything's available. Sometimes he's got what we
need, sometimes he doesn't, but he's always willing
to help us when he can," adds Dave.
Carl says after the 9/11 terrorist attack, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began ﬁlling grant requests of many rural departments. He
Queen City volunteer ﬁre chief Carl Snider, left, found this 1975 Mack ﬁre engine for Dave Johniatis, ﬁre chief of
says his department received a grant years ago that
Livonia's Grant Township Volunteer Protection District. Through Carl's efforts, more than 50 volunteer
helped them purchase much-needed breathing
departments in north Missouri have upgraded the gear they use in their rural communities.
apparatus. According to the chief, many volunteer
departments apply for grants but are denied, often
due to low population or call volume.
"Sometimes the grants are for matching funds,
too," chimes in ﬁre chief Dave. "But if a department
is running on $5,000 a year and they have to use
half of that to match a grant, where does the money
come from to pay for fuel, insurance, utilities and
gear? Sometimes grants are a Catch-22."
Carl says while his department's two trucks and
rescue vehicle are circa 1973, 1984 and 1989, respectively, he's happy with the equipment they currently
have to serve their town and surrounding area.
"We're blessed even if it is piecemeal," he says.
truck repairs or gear, you have to make do, do withby Heather Berry
"That said, it's taken years to build our department
out or ﬁx it yourself."
up, and our newest truck is still more than 20 years
Carl says helping other ﬁre departments in need
old, which is retirement age by some big-city departhappened after he found himself scrounging to
magine ﬂames licking at a building through
upgrade his own department's equipment 15 years
thick smoke, ready to devour the structure in
Carl says when he can't ﬁnd donations, he'll
ago. He called a ﬁre chief in Iowa to see if they had a
minutes. The whine of a siren ﬁlls the air, and
often look at online auctions for trucks and gear. He
truck for sale.
lights ﬂash as the ﬁreﬁghters pull the hoses and
says private buyers will tear a ﬁre truck apart and sell
"He didn't have any trucks for sale, but he did
struggle to quench the ﬂames before they spread.
it piece by piece online.
have a room full of equipment he said he'd be glad
Whether it's a big city or small town, one thing
"That's not ideal, but sometimes, depending on
to give us," recalls the Tri-County Electric Cooperain common keeps the ﬁreﬁghters answering the call:
what we need, we can ﬁnd it at a lower price
tive member. "He rattled off a list of
than what it would cost us new," Carl explains.
items and I thought, 'Cool . . . wait, I
"Whether the ﬁre is in a city like Chicago or a
He adds that he saved his own department
can't use all that.'"
town in rural Missouri, ﬁremen need the same gear
$10,000 simply bidding online. He says
Soon, Carl was on the phone again,
and equipment to work with," says Carl Snider.
it's hard to say how much money they've
calling other volunteer departments in
Carl is the ﬁre chief for Queen City, a town of 600
saved on other needed items over the
north Missouri to see what they needed.
about 15 miles south of the Iowa border. A volunteer
"It didn't take long to realize that an
ﬁreﬁghter in the area for half his life, the 45-year-old
Carl's latest ﬁnd was 2,500 feet of
entire room of gear wasn't going to meet
has seen the plight volunteer ﬁre departments in
hose, which has been going back out
the needs of the other volunteer departrural Missouri face when trying to stay prepared for
to volunteer departments in north
ments," he says. Carl started looking online
the inevitable call.
Missouri 500 to 600 feet at a time.
and calling larger departments from Illinois to Long
To help meet this need, Carl simply started
"I can usually ﬁnd a home for anything that's
Island to see if anyone had gear available to donate.
matching up one department's excess to another
donated," says the chief. "Our most common
If a department didn't have gear to share, they
department's needs. According to the chief, it's a
request is for extra-large and larger turnout gear, but
usually had a name of someone else who might.
ﬁreﬁghter's version of paying it forward.
it goes out as fast as it comes in. I usually describe
"Boy, did we ever help clean storerooms out,"
"Not every department has a tax-based budget to
the size gear we need as 'big ol' farm boy size' so
says Carl. "We would get turn-out gear (ﬁre-retaroperate with," Carl says, adding that his department
they know what I'm talking about," adds the chief.
dant pants and coats), hoses, nozzles, axes, pike
runs on dues paid by the patrons they serve. "In a
With Carl's help, 50 departments have found new
poles, halligan bars, you name it."
rural area, that means funds aren't usually plentiequipment. Most are in northern Missouri counties.
The chief says by the time you add up the average
ful, and fundraisers or grants are the only way to
"The donations from larger departments in and
cost for specially treated coats, pants, boots, gloves,
come up with extra money for items the department
out of state have helped us be better prepared to
hoods, helmets and breathing apparatus, one ﬁreneeds."
serve our neighbors when the call comes in for
ﬁghter easily can have $5,000 simply in what they
Carl says the Queen City Volunteer Fire Departhelp," Carl says. "And for that, we're grateful."
wear. And, sadly, things like breathing apparatus has
ment runs on about $10,000 a year, which might
a deﬁned life cycle and needs replaced every so often.
sound like a lot, but it isn't, according to the chief.
You may contact Queen City ﬁre chief Carl Snider by
At one point, Carl was able to replace Queen
"We pay half that just for insurance coverage.
email at queencityﬁredept1121@yahoo.com or by calling
City's 1968 International ﬁre truck with a donated
Then there's fuel and utilities," Carl says. "If the
1973 Seagrave. Queen City's old truck went to
budget's shot and you need something in the way of
Carl Snider pays it forward to help rural ﬁreﬁghters
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2014
Rural Missouri - February 2014
Ministering to motorists
A mid-winter read
Fighting more than fires
Out of the Way Eats
Metal & music
Hearth and Home
The Missouri Dinosaur
Rural Missouri - February 2014
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