It wasn’t Christmas, but Lostine Fire Department celebrated receiving a massive gift last week, a “new” fire truck.
The 1991 Spartan City Engine, donated by Hillsboro Fire Department, replaces the city’s notoriously difficult to drive lemon-yellow 1984 unit. The Spartan is a big improvement in technology and offers the ability to pump foam.
It joins the Lostine stable, which includes a 2004 tanker truck and two wildland fire trucks circa 1984 and 2004.
“These are all new trucks in service since I started three years ago,” said Fire Chief Dusty Tippet.
The 15-man volunteer fire department generally answers a dozen calls per year, but the increased danger from forest fires makes it important that rural fire departments are prepared.
Fire departments in larger cities are aware of the need in rural communities and often donate trucks they are cycling out of service through the Federal Excess Property Program. The truck would cost about a half-million dollars new.
Because it now has about 120,000 miles, it is valued at around $15,000.
Lostine received the truck thanks to networking done by Matt Howard, Unit Forester at Oregon Department of Forestry in Wallowa. Howard and Hillsboro Deputy Fire Chief Mark Prince met at a workshop earlier, and Prince said he’d gotten “an eye-opening experience about what rural communities have and can afford.”
So, when the Hillsboro department decided to replace an engine, Prince gave Howard a call and asked if he knew someone who could use a pumper.
“The department is really growing a lot in a positive direction,” Howard said. “We’re all really helping each other out. We’ve had a lot of positive experiences and Chief Dusty Tippet is really a spark plug.”
Prince came to Lostine to provide a quick training lesson last Wednesday. Tippet awarded Prince a “key to the city” for his efforts.
“There are no locks in the city, but we do have a key,” Tippet quipped.