Cumberland Times-News

Local News

November 15, 2012

Berlin VFD donates truck to storm-damaged N.Y. department

Firefighters vote to send 1984 vehicle, worth about $400K today, to Queens

BERLIN, Pa. — In an effort to help hurricane-devastated fellow firefighters, the Berlin Volunteer Fire Department will deliver a fully equipped fire truck to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department in Queens, N.Y. , today.

Following a more than two-thirds majority vote in its biweekly business meeting Monday to make the contribution, the 119-year-old Berlin Volunteer Fire Department will deliver its recently inspected 1984 American LaFrance truck, complete with four self-contained breathing apparatuses, ladders and pipe pole.

The truck was purchased by the fire company in 1984 at a cost of $140,000. Today, the same truck would cost about $400,000.

“We will be leaving at 3 a.m. to drive to Queens. The West Hamilton Beach firefighters know we are coming and they are very excited about it,” said Berlin fire department president Doyle Paul, who has served as the president of the 200-member fire department since 1973.

Paul will make the 340-mile trip to Queens with Berlin Fire Chief Gerald Parry; Kris Wyant, captain of the Berlin Area Ambulance Association; and Rick Lohr, director of  Somerset County Emergency Management.

“We are the second Somerset County fire company to make a donation. The Hooversville Volunteer Fire Department donated a truck to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department a couple weeks ago,” Paul said Thursday.

When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, the West Hamilton Beach Fire Department suffered major damage to its station and lost three fire trucks and two ambulances, according to media reports.

The fire company’s name was on emergency center lists as one of the hardest-hit fire companies damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The donated truck won’t be unfamiliar to the struggling Queens firefighters.

“This 1984 LaFrance is a twin to a 1984 LaFrance that the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department lost in the hurricane,” said Paul.

Paul said the contribution to ailing brethren firefighters was made possible, in part, by the unwavering support of the Berlin Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary.

“We are blessed in Berlin with our fire company and our ladies auxiliary that is very active and supported by about 125 women who come to our aid and help raise funds for us annually,” Paul said.

“We hear of tragedies in other parts of the world. But here is the need in our own country. We ought to be able to help our neighbors. We are touched by this tragedy,” he said.

“Anybody in their own individual way who wants to help these people as we approach the holiday season can do so through their church, Salvation Army or Red Cross. Anybody can help. Some of their greatest need is for cleaning materials. This isn’t a short-term thing. It will continue through the summer,” said Paul.

Paul said he is eager to make the trip to Queens.

“It’s basically  a turnpike trip for us and there’s a governor on the truck so we can’t go above 58 miles per hour. It will take us about  6 1/2 hours and we will spend an hour or two there and expect to return Friday night,” he said.

The Berlin Volunteer Fire Department is located in the Berlin Municipal Building at 700 North St.

The department receives about 140 calls for service annually, most of which are for vehicle accidents and storm-related calls in its rural and mountainous fire district that includes a lot of farmland.

There are about 75 active members within the department, according to Paul.

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at jlalderton@times-news.com.

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