And Old Fire Truck Forges a New Relationship Between Vernon and Bowman Departments

Vernon council will be asked to approve the initial transaction on Tuesday.

It all began with an older fire truck for sale.

And it has turned into a family that now extends from Connecticut to Texas.

For some time, the Vernon Fire Department has been marketing the 1989 Sutphen/Ranger fire truck that is being replaced. Last month, at a Town Council meeting, Fire Chief William Call said he thought the local department had found the perfect home for it.

The Bowman Community Fire Department in Texas.

"It's a department with a lot of responsibility but not a lot of money," Call said at the time. "I think we can develop a nice relationship because we periodically have equipment we are replacing and I want it to go to a good department that needs it. It's all good equipment, just hard to sell.

"We can start with the truck."

Things seem to have worked out because the Town Council is being asked to approve the sale of the truck on Tuesday to the Bowman department. The Vernon Fire Department purchased it for $171,488 in 1990. It is considered fully depreciated but in solid working order.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to equip the new truck in Vernon, Call said. Bowman will be using the truck from Vernon to replace a 1976 Ford pumper.

"I can't express enough how much we appreciate this," Bowman Fire Chief John Strenski said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "Yes, it's a business deal, but it means much more than that. There is truly a sense of brotherhood between two departments about 1,700 miles apart."

The Bowman department is located about halfway between the north Texas city of Amarillo along Interstate-40 and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Plex area, Strenski said. The area is rural and is loaded with extensive grasslands. The department gets about $7,000 a year from Archer County and must raise anything else it needs, Strenski said. Conversely, Vernon has a fire budget of $1.1 million.

Strenski said grants from a local foundation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will offset what he considers to be a major purchase.

"The Vernon Fire Department put together a video of the truck, and the department members here looked at it and knew this would be something important to have," he said.

The Bowman departmental Web site proclaimed the excitement by noting, "Big change is coming from the East for Bowman. Stay tuned as it develops!"

Vernon has two extensive commercial districts and Interstate-84 running through it and those elements present unique challenges to a fire department. The Bowman Department can face some nasty wild fires, Strenski said.

He said the grass fires can spread rapidly and can approach a single rural home in a hurry. He said in those instances, the truck from Vernon would be placed near such a home to fend off the approaching flames.

"A truck like this can help us save the home," Strenski said.

Call said he is going through his department's inventory of older gear and will donate items like radios, suits or "turnout gear" and hand lights to the Bowman department if Strenski says he needs them. Call added he would like to develop al long-term relationship with the Bowman department.

Strenski said he welcomes that.

"We're excited," he said. "When this truck is shipped, it will be a good day for our department."


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