Christmas came a few days early for Tarkington Volunteer Fire Department. Late Friday evening, firefighters gathered at the station on SH 321 in Tarkington to await the arrival of a brand new Sutphen fire engine that Tarkington VFD purchased with the help of a $200,000 grant from Texas Forest Service.
The grant covers roughly half of the $390,000 price tag. The rest will be financed through quarterly payments made by Tarkington VFD.
The truck is the first new fire engine for Tarkington VFD in two decades, the last purchased in 1999. The old fire engine, which is still operational, will go to Tarkington VFD’s substation on FM 787.
Tarkington VFD Chief Paul Gregory said Sutphen was among the companies that submitted bids for the fire engine earlier this year. The Dublin, Ohio-based company was picked because of its reputation for providing high-quality trucks at an economical price.
“They make 250-300 fire trucks per year. It’s a family-owned business and it’s the only family-owned one that is also a large manufacturer of fire trucks,” said Gregory, adding that Sutphen has been in operation since 1890.
The new fire engine has a four-man cab, holds 1,000 gallons of water and is capable of pumping out 1,250 gallons of water per minute. Decked out with light bars and a 24-foot extension ladder, the fire truck also offers A & B foam. Class A foam is used for fighting fires that involve wood, cotton and other similar fuel sources. Class B is used for fighting fires involving gasoline, diesel and other fuels.
Firefighters have begun calling the fire truck “Eugene,” in honor of their fire chief, whose middle name is Eugene. The truck is painted maroon in keeping with the school colors for Tarkington ISD.
Gregory said the department will host an open house after the holidays, so residents can see what they helped the department purchase.
“Without the community supporters, we couldn’t do what we do. We are one of the best departments in the county and that is because of community support,” Gregory said. “We still need volunteers and we make sure each is equipped and well-trained. Again, we couldn’t do any of this without the community’s support.”