Mike Wilbur


ELLIOTT COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) — The Sandy Hook Fire Department was responding to a house fire Thursday, when the shoulder of the road gave out, and a pumper truck rolled into a ditch.

“The cab was crushed in, the drivers door was crushed in, and the tank is believed to have ruptured as well, which is basically what makes up that truck,” said Chief Scott Shepherd.

The truck was destroyed, but the driver was not hurt.

The Sandy Hook Fire Department was already down one pumper truck due to engine failure.

Now, not having two of their four pumper trucks, Shepherd says response times to the community will be longer.

“We’ve cut ourselves back here with these two major losses to our department and it’s going to be a struggle for the community,” said Shepherd.

Elliott County only has three fire departments. All of them are volunteer. They assist each other, all the departments respond to every structure fire.

With Sandy Hook down to two pumper trucks, Shepherd says they will have to rely on the two other departments to supply water as rural areas do not have water sources readily available.

“I would think the impact on Elliott County is going to be noticeable. The longer response times means the more likely that the house or structure will be totally lost,” said Nancy Kuehner, the chief at Route 504 Fire Department.

There’s no easy solution to buy a new truck, as the department’s annual operating budget is around $26,000.

“That has to maintain six trucks and provide fuel for those six trucks with about 300 calls per year,” said Shepherd.

Funding is already tight, as they only receive $11,000 from the Fire Commission each year. All other funds are from donations.

Shepherd says a used truck will cost at least $30,000 dollars, but with that come the cost of repairs. He said they were already trying to find the money to repair the truck with engine failure.

“We’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard spot here where we’re a very limited funded fire department,” he said.

The only option for funds is applying for a grant which is a lengthy process.

“It might be a year from now before a grant is funded for us to be able to place an order for a truck or find a truck at that point,” said Shepherd.

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