By Connie Leinbach
With the arrival of a new firetruck, the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department has a full complement of state-of-the-art equipment,
“The new truck will be the first one out for fire calls,” said Chief Albert O’Neal as he and others recently admired the new, custom-made vehicle outside the firehouse.
This new “first-out” pumper truck replaces the old one, which is more than 20 years old, O’Neal said.
“Hopefully, it will only have to be used in a parade,” an optimistic O’Neal quipped as he watched the members examine the new vehicle. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”
Along with the old pumper, the all-volunteer OVFD now has six responder vehicles, but O’Neal said they haven’t decided what to do with the old truck.
Jeff Dippold, a firefighter who also serves as treasurer, made the trip to Midwest Fire in Luverne, Minn., to pick it up, learn about it, and drive it to the island.
Along the way, photos of the truck’s journey were posted on the OVFD’s Facebook page and there was a bit of a mini parade as it drove off the Swan Quarter ferry and headed to the fire station on the other side of the village.
This one cost about $350,000 to build and when it’s outfitted with all of the gear, the total will come to about $500,000.
The OVFD relies on donations and grants to fund its operations and it must be fully ready to respond to fire emergencies on the island since help from other fire companies is not available.
The annual Firemen’s Ball, held on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, is one of the principal sources of revenue.
“This new truck is thanks to the fundraising from the many Firemen’s Balls over the years,” said Carmen Laton, a firefighter and the safety officer.
The nonprofit OVFD works closely with the Hyde County Emergency Services (EMS), providing first-responder assistance, including having its firefighters and trucks present at the airport for medevacs when people in emergency conditions are transported off-island by helicopter.
Being an island, Ocracoke must have the best severe weather-worthy equipment and all personnel ready to go as help from any other fire department is at least two hours away, which puts the island in a very vulnerable position.
The OVFD is always looking for new members and not just firefighters.
There are lots of support responsibilities needed to keep the department in top working order.
Anyone interested in becoming a member of this crucial public service can contact the company by email: OcracokeVFD@gmail.com.