The Roby Volunteer Fire Department has improved its fire suppression capability by adding to its fleet.
The department recently obtained a pumper truck from the South Hornell Fire Department in Hornell, N.Y.
Roby Fire Chief Keith Follin said the truck was found on a Facebook post and was purchased for only $3,000.
“They originally wanted $6,000, but they understood our situation and accepted our offer,” Follin said. “It took us about a year to save up the money to purchase this truck and this was the closest one we could find that fit our needs and budget.”
The truck has a 1988 Volvo Chassis with an FMC fire truck body, and is powered by a Cummins diesel engine with an Allison automatic transmission. Its water tank has a capacity of 750 gallons and the pump is rated at 1,500 gallons per minute.
Coincidentally, 1988 is also the year the Roby Fire Department was founded. The truck joins a fleet that also features a 1969 Ford pumper, a 1979 Hendrickson pumper, a 1993 Ford F350 brush-truck, a 1986 Chevrolet brush-truck, a 1989 GMC service and support truck and a 1986 International Harvester 1,200 gallon tanker.
Follin said the Roby FD includes 10 firefighters and five board members.
“The state of the Roby Fire Department is not much different from other similar fire departments across the country,” he said. “We have seen a reduction in volunteers, increases in operating costs, aging equipment and apparatus, and level or reduced income. Donations and fundraising are proving to be more and more difficult. It’s always a struggle financially.”
Follin said it’s important for people to recognize the value of volunteer fire departments and personnel.
“Imagine the risk to your family if you did not have a fire department,” he said. “Imagine calling 9-1-1 for an emergency and no one answers or no one comes to help. You stand there helplessly watching events unfold and you can’t do anything. Rural fire departments provide their communities a much-needed and often overlooked variety of services, like a break or discount on their business or homeowner’s insurance.
“This break can be just enough to keep communities alive.”
Follin pointed out that personnel from rural departments are capable of performing the same life-saving tasks as those of any other fire department.
“We’re also trained to enter and conduct searches in burning structures if conditions permit,” he said, “and we’re capable of assessing, assisting with and minimizing the impact of a hazardous materials incident. We also assist with controlled burns, provide fire education to our communities and schools, handle motor vehicle accidents and provide medical first response to our communities.”
Without manpower, Follin said, none of it would be possible.
“We struggle just to maintain these services without people volunteering,” he said. “Even though we can get some firefighters to a call, there are still hours and hours of work that must be done. The vehicles we use are older and have to be checked routinely and often. In our department we have 20 internal combustion engines – not including trucks – that need to be checked and run on occasion, along with eight trucks that need to be checked, grass that needs to be mowed, stations that need to be maintained, equipment needs to be cleaned, fundraising, and the list goes on and on.
“This all takes manpower. It takes time. It takes dedication to your friends, family, neighbors and community in general. It seems as though we have somehow lost this dedication or concern.”
Follin presented a formula representing how adequate manpower solves many issues for rural fire departments, while inadequate numbers increase them.
“The simple math is, if a task takes one person one hour to accomplish it, then two people should be able to do it in 30 minutes,” he said. “So the more people we have the less time it takes away from family and fun. Additionally, fire departments need to have 20-30 people on their roster to ensure 5-10 show up for a call at any given time. Most volunteer departments are suffering the same dilemma. We can improve our services and the community’s savings but it takes people and money.”
Follin said there’s a perception that being a volunteer firefighter is too hard.
“Within the fire service training, requirements have gone up and it seems to scare people away,” he said. “These requirements are not as bad as people think. I encourage anybody to contact their local fire department and see what they can do to help.”
For more information, or to inquire about volunteering, residents in the Roby, Evening Shade or Success areas can call Follin at 417-967-6536 or stop by the Roby fire station during a training session, which take place on the second Saturday of each month. The Roby FD can also be found on Facebook.