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Traveling the Back RoadsPosted Tuesday, October 6, 2009, at 6:04 PM
Michael Hargrove, Assistant Fire Chief, and Mike Campbell, firefighter, stand beside the Vanduser fire truck after the Bell City Community Day parade on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009.
I'm often late because something has piqued my curiosity and I've stopped to investigate.
Today's story happened on assignment at the Bell City Community Days Celebration after Labor Day. I do love these small town fall celebrations. I've been to three so far - including Marquand's, (pop. 433).
I was watching the Community Day parade, enjoying the sunshine, taking pictures of the mounted parade marshalls, the Bell City and Bernie bands, and the brightly-decorated floats, when the firetrucks rumbled by. I have a special place in my heart for these volunteer fire departments. Each town has scrimped and labored to come up with the means to purchase the older trucks that larger cities have replaced. I know how hard the townspeople and the fire fighters work, and it's truly heart-warming to see these trucks come through the parades.
Imagine my surprise when a big, sharp-looking fire truck came rolling by, and I saw that it was from Vanduser (pop 217). I had no idea that this tiny village had such an active fire department! I was chasing them down the street to get an interview, when, much to my disappointment, they headed for home.
After the parade, I drove out to Rotary Park to take a view shots of the kiddie games and whatever else I could find - and to my delight, the Vanduser fire truck came back and parked in a line beside the others! Yippee!
I talked with Michael Hargrove, the assistant chief, and Mike Campbell, a new fire fighter. These young men are just two examples of the energetic and enthusiastic fire fighters you'll find staffing these small rural fire departments. They get no pay, so they all have their own jobs, which they can hopefully drop in a minute to go racing off on a call, responding to a fire or a medical emergency.
The Vanduser Volunteer Fire Department, it turns out, has 20 members and the 3rd largest response area in Scott County. They are funded through the Scott County Rural Fire Department.
When the Vanduser fire department first began in 1986, they had a 1946 300-gallon fire truck. The guys did raffles and various fundraising activities, relying on private donations to purchase a 1964 Ford fire truck, which is still in service.
The beautiful vehicle in the photo above is a 1986 model but was refurbished in 1998. It has a 10-man cab, which is stocked with five SCBAs (self-contained breathing apparatus devices). It was purchased through a Federal grant.
"We can be in full gear and breathing in two minutes," Michael explained. "We carry basic life support."
I don't know about you folks, but I'm impressed! I may just start a series of reports on the small town local volunteer fire departments in this area.
And once Corey teaches me how to post extra stories on the NSC website, watch out!
From the water-logged streets of Advance, Mo. (pop. 1244) this is your roving rural reporter Madeline, only 35 minutes from quitting time!
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.