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 chief. 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 ment standards." 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 proper funding. 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 Queen City $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 years. "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 or by calling City's 1968 International fire truck with a donated Then there's fuel and utilities," Carl says. "If the 660-341-4196. 1973 Seagrave. Queen City's old truck went to budget's shot and you need something in the way of more than Carl Snider pays it forward to help rural firefighters I 14 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

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
Honest Abe
Hearth and Home
The Missouri Dinosaur
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - February 2014