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Trap firemen seek help

WINDSOR – The Trap Volunteer Fire Department (TVFD) is seeking help – short and long term.

During the most recent meeting of the Bertie County Commissioners, representatives from the department came before the board seeking additional funding not only for their department, but for every department in the county.

Keith Hollowell, a member of the Trap Fire Department Board of Directors, talked about the needs of his department and others. He said last September, the department failed to pass an inspection by the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

Hollowell said the department had a 1964 tanker that was bought new and then a 1978 pumper and a 1961 pumper which still pump water, but will not pass inspection.

“We were given until September to get straight,” Hollowell said.

He went on to say the department had tried to get a grant and loan from the United States Department of Agriculture for the purchase of an $185,000 new truck.

He said after the grant portion, the department would have to take a loan for over $120,000.

“We can’t make that work,” he said. “We’re asking you to help us. We’re not talking just about Trap, but every fire department in the county needs more money.

“When the siren goes off, we’re on your payroll,” he said. “We need good equipment.”

Bertie County Commission Chairman Norman M. Cherry Sr. asked if they had sought a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grant for the new truck. Hollowell said they had, but they didn’t qualify.

Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb said the county had tried to help with the immediate need.

“Earlier today, (Emergency Management Coordinator) Rickey Freeman put out the information about the need for a pumper on a list serve,” Lamb said. “We got about 25 hits of departments in and out of the state that were trying to help.”

Hollowell said they were pursuing those avenues for a vehicle, but stressed the need to continue to work for a new truck.

“Do we know if those vehicles will pass the test,” asked Commissioner J. Wallace Perry.

“We don’t know,” Hollowell said. “We think so.”

Hollowell then continued to stress that the request wasn’t just for help on a new truck, but also for more money for fire departments in general.

“We understand and concur with the need,” said Cherry. “This board is willing to help do anything we can for our fire departments in the county.

“That being said, with the economy the way it is, you know the situation we’re in,” he added. “We’ll do whatever we can.”

Lamb said the commissioners would soon begin the 2009-10 budget process. He suggested the fire departments from the county return during that process to state their case.

“We want to do anything we can do,” Lamb said. “Short term or long term, we want to help in whatever way we can.”

After the meeting, the Trap Fire Department was able to receive two donations from in-state fire departments that TVFD Secretary Brad Brown said would help them in the short term.

They received a donation of a 1988 vehicle from the Belfast Fire Department in Wayne County and a 1991 truck from the Western Wake Fire Department.

“They are appreciated, but still a long way from being a 2009,” Brown said.

He said the department would continue to seek a new vehicle through a variety of sources, including the USDA and FEMA.

Brown said the help with getting the two vehicles was appreciated, but also said the department was serious about the need for more financial support for all of the county’s fire departments.