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Fire department acquires new trucks

Former state senator Tim Jennings, right, admires the Berrendo Volunteer Fire Department’s two new firetrucks alongside a member of the East Grand Plains Volunteer Fire Department. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

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Volunteer firefighters from all around the area reached the Chaves County Administrative Center Wednesday afternoon, but on this call, no fire was in sight.

Instead, the Berrendo Volunteer Fire Department was displaying their two newly acquired firetrucks.

Jamie Higgins, deputy chief of Berrendo Fire said the last time the department had received a new firetruck was in 2002. He said while obtaining these new vehicles has been a long process, about two years in the making, it’s been worth the wait.

“This truck was built, designed, for Chaves County,” Higgins said. “So hopefully, it lasts for 20 years and does what it’s supposed to do.”

Bill Williams, public services director for Chaves County, said an equipment-replacement schedule is set for the volunteer fire departments in Chaves County.

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“It all goes through the state fire marshal’s office, and they determine with the help of the departments, of course, they know what they need and want,” Williams said. “These firefighters, they know what they want, they know what they need in their individual districts, and they go through a lot of trouble to specify how these trucks are built. It’s a very time-consuming thing.

“Then, they go over them with a fine-toothed comb, making sure that the truck is built to their exact specifications and nothing is skipped. Normally, we would not have two trucks at once like this, but one fire truck that was ordered on the replacement schedule two years ago failed the final inspections. They just tried to cut some corners.”

The deputy chief said the new trucks are capable of doing anything from handling dumpster fires, to car wrecks, and so on.

“We look at the fact that — being one of the biggest county districts in Chaves County, we may be 60, 70 miles out of town,” Higgins said, “We’ve got to be able to work on whatever’s out there.”

Williams said the fact that the county can replace equipment before it becomes a safety issue occurs is wonderful.

“As a community, we’re very fortunate to have such good quality volunteer fire departments that strive to maintain their equipment, have good staff and just response times that they have. I just think that we’re just really fortunate that all of our volunteer fire departments are in that shape, and that there is a funding-mechanism from the state that provides monies to replace this equipment before it becomes a hazard.

The trucks were built completely to their own specifications by HME Inc. out of Wyoming, Michigan.

“That’s how we set these trucks up, to be able to attack whatever task is thrown at us,” he said. “This is what county taxes do. I mean, the county owns these trucks, so the people that pay their county taxes — they paid for these.”

Multimedia-Crime reporter Trevier Gonzalez can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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