HAMLET — A new tanker truck will soon roll into the firehouse, replacing the 40-year-old model currently in use at Hamlet Fire and Rescue.
City Council members gave the new truck their stamp of approval when they passed Hamlet’s 2014-15 budget on June 10. Lt. Trey Goodwin of the fire department said the tanker is a 1972 model.
“We’re replacing the tanker due to some mechanical issues,” Goodwin said. “It’s been reliable, but the older it gets, the harder it is to find parts for it.”
Goodwin said tankers hold more water than fire engines. While tankers are useful in the city, they are more often used to get to places outside city limits where hooking up to fire hydrants is not always possible. The tanker can carry 2,000 gallons of water.
“Ladder trucks are usually for buildings inside the city, commercial buildings,” Goodwin said. “There’s plenty of hydrants in the city limits, so there’s not normally a reason to have to haul that much water. But out in the county, the tanker is better. There are fire hydrants out there, but not as many as there are in the city. So, therefore, the more water you’ve got, the better off you are.”
Goodwin has been a firefighter for 18 years — two as a volunteer and 16 paid. He said most start out as volunteers and become career firefighters when paid positions open up.
He started as a junior firefighter at the age of 15 and doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t interested in firefighting. It seems to run in his family.
“My son’s 13, and he’s getting into it as a junior for later this year at the East Rockingham Fire Department,” Goodwin said.
Hamlet Fire and Rescue isn’t only a fire department, he explained. Members receive fire, rescue and emergency medical services certifications. With about 2,500 calls for service each year, they stay busy.
“We have vehicle extractions and water rescues sometimes,” Goodwin said. “Or if someone gets hung up in a machine. We have to be prepared to handle all kinds of situations. And we get 36 hours a year in fire training plus 24 hours a year in EMS.”
A “typical” day around the fire department can vary from one call to the busiest day Goodwin remembers, when 18 calls came through in a 24-hour period.
“You have to be ready for anything,” Goodwin said. “This lifestyle, it can interfere with family, so it’s not for everyone. Your family has to be in it with you. If you have plans to go out and eat, for instance, and something happens, you have to cancel. It can put a strain on a marriage.”
He also said things don’t always go the way he wishes they would.
“The worst part about this job, I’m just going to put it at that,” he said, “is when you go to somebody’s house, like for a cardiac arrest. You do everything you can, but you can’t bring them back. Or those houses, we try to save what we can. It’s people losing loved ones and material things that can’t be replaced.”
Having the right equipment at the right time can make all the difference, Hamlet firefighters said. Goodwin and his colleague, Engineer Stewart Niemyer, say the old tanker has been reliable through the years but getting it replaced now is probably the best call. It can also help the community out in terms of taxes.
“When our equipment is up to date, it can affect insurance rates for the city based on a formula the state has set,” Goodwin said. “That’s always a positive.”
Reach reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-997-3111, ext. 15.