Frankford’s newest fire engine to be first on the scene

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Members of the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company take personal ownership of their new tanker truck by ceremonially pushing it into the station. Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Members of the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company take personal ownership of their new tanker truck by ceremonially pushing it into the station. The Frankford Volunteer Fire Company recently welcomed the newest member of their team: Engine Tanker 76-2, which will be the company’s first responder to fire scenes.

In early 2007, FVFC officials recognized the need for a new apparatus, and they established a committee in 2012. The truck came home from Wisconsin in mid-January and officially enters service on May 1. Basically, this truck fulfills the company’s need for water.

“It’s the first piece to show up on the fire scene. You got three guys in back who don’t know when the next guys are coming,” but they have hoses and 3,000 gallons of water until backup arrives, said Bill Ireland, chief engineer.

“We’re limited in the manpower that we have, and it’s a lot of water to get us started,” said Tommy Bacon, deputy fire chief.

“If it saves one life, it’s worth every penny spent,” said the Rev. Bob Hudson, echoing a common sentiment. “If it goes out and does the job,” it will be “blessed” to meet the needs of the community.

The 2013 Pierce Arrow XT engine cost about $650,000 in base price, plus another $100,000 in accoutrements. That was a price Frankford slowly built up to, with countless oyster sandwiches sold, fundraisers and social hall rentals.

“We’re very fortunate to have the State of Delaware grant-in-aid funding,” Fire Chief Hunter Holland added. He thanked the members and community for their continued support.

“I want to thank you all for all you do for the community. This fire company has come a long way in 10 years,” state Rep. John Atkins (D-41st) said of the new truck, new social hall and countless fundraisers. “That’s something to be proud of … and a testament to the long hours” put in by the community.

“We’re fortunate to live in an area where we have such a good relationship with representatives,” Holland said of Atkins.

While Holland praised Atkins for always returning phone calls quickly, Atkins quipped, “You guys don’t have that benefit — to say you’ll call back in five minutes.”

“When the alarm blows, they’re always ready to go out,” Hudson said.

The engine tanker carries seven people and pumps up to 1,500 gallons of water per minute. Reflective emergency stripes crisscross on the back, a new requirement that older Frankford trucks lack, having been grandfathered in under older regulations.

The back is also dedicated to Sept. 11. Typically, fire trucks are labeled with the reminder for motorists to “Keep back 500 feet.”

“In recognition to our fallen brother and sisters, it says ‘Keep back 343 feet,’” a tribute to those 343 firefighters who perished in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, Bacon said.

The tanker brings Frankford up to eight emergency apparatuses, not including antiques.

The Frankford VFC always welcomes new members, from firefighting to fundraising. Of the 60 members, only a portion are active for service.

“There’s a job for everybody in fire service,” Holland said. “We’re looking for help.”

Bacon encouraged people to visit the station.

“The door’s open,” added Patrick Quigley, safety coordinator. People can look at the vehicles and chat with fire company members.

Besides the initial fire school, members have monthly training sessions to keep their skills sharp.

“We don’t have a lot of fire calls, but you don’t want to be out there learning on the side of the road,” Quigley said.

Despite having such a large ZIP code area, the Frankford VFC has the second-smallest fire district in Delaware, said Ireland. But that doesn’t make a Frankford fire any less dire. Frankford also provides backup to other area fire stations and shares ambulance service with Dagsboro, trading four-day shifts with the neighboring town.

“We’re one of the only companies in the state close enough, fortunate enough, to do that,” Ireland said.