Local Fire Departments Help Out

Last week we brought you a story about the Jackson Heights volunteer fire department.  Located between Winona and Chapel Hill in Smith County, the department was down to just one working fire engine to service a 65-square mile area.

After seeing the story on KLTV, several nearby fire departments offered to help by donating trucks. Sunday, KLTV 7's Chris Gibson was in Jackson Heights, as firefighters said thank you.

"It needs a lot of plumbing work, it needs a tank replaced, it probably hasn't been used in 5-6 years."

The list of repairs is long.  A small department, Jackson Heights has the right equipment, getting things to work is another story.

"(Our main pumper) truck has probably been towed 4 times in the last 2 months for numerous reasons."

Assistant Fire Chief John Freeman knows all too well the problems the department faces.  A volunteer here for the last 11 years, going without is something he's gotten used to.  Down to just one truck, he knew the department needed help.

"After the story we received a call, I think the first call was from the Lindale Fire Department and they were gracious enough to loan us a brush truck."

Lindale was first, then Carlisle called offering another truck.  A group used to helping others, was now getting some help of their own.

"When we got out of the truck and looked at it I was astonished at how good it looked, I was really surprised," said Freeman.

Charles Robinson heads up emergency services for Rusk County.  He helped make the Carlisle donation possible and says it's the least they could do.

"We're in this for a common goal to provide services to citizens of each county," he said.  "I don't know a fire department in Texas or America that's not willing to help each other."

Freeman says it's nice to have a truck they can be proud of and the equipment to do their job.

"We don't get paid for doing what we're doing, the only pay I get is in my heart knowing that I've helped somebody."

The Lindale truck is just a loaner.  They're working out a deal to buy the other truck from Carlisle.

Chris Gibson, reporting