Rural fire department opened its doors 10 years ago Sept. 11
Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011 5:03 pm
While the country was in the middle of crisis and many were still baffled about the events that had taken place that day, the Pillowville Volunteer Fire Department in Weakley County opened its doors and started answering calls on Sept. 11, 2001.
The term opened doors is used literally because the first fire station was a barn owned by one of the local farmers. The department operated out of this barn for a year, where it also held all of its meetings and fundraisers. The primary fire truck was a 1975 Ford pumper which was donated by the president of the board after he purchased it from the Martin Fire Department.
The need for a fire department in Pillowville, a small community which lies between Greenfield and McKenzie on Highway 124, was immense, since the closest department was more than seven miles away. There are more than 1,300 people who live in the response area for the department.
“We were amazed how the citizens of our community pulled together and supported our cause. The current station that we operate out of now was erected around 2002 and we were very eager to move in. It is a three-bay station with a large classroom off to the side that comes in handy for meetings and training,” a spokesman said.
In 2004, the department received a grant to get new trucks and other equipment necessary to provide essential fire protection to its citizens. The department was able to purchase a 1990 Spartan pumper, a 1993 Chevy tanker and radios for all the firefighters. Until that time, only a select few firefighters had radios and in the event of a fire it was their job to be near the radio and call the other firemen to alert them of the page. Fellow departments in Weakley County have helped out the small department by donating gear and tools and inviting the firefighters to train with them.
In 2008, the department saved enough money to purchase a brush truck — a 1996 Chevy 2500 with a 250-gallon drop-in unit — to help fight grass and brush fires and aid in fighting fires where the heavier and larger trucks can’t go.
“It was with the support from the people coming to our fundraisers that purchased that truck, no grant money was used in that purchase,” a spokesman said.
The Pillowville Fire Department does more than just fight fires. Members assist emergency management service calls in the area, help on accident scenes, respond in severe weather situations and provide a safe landing zone for Air Evac when its services are needed.
“We started off back in 2001 with around six guys and have now expanded to 16 active firemen,” a spokesman said.
“We have come so far in the 10 years we have been answering calls and still strive to become a better department and constantly set new goals. One of those goals is to lower our ISO rating. Every department is given one of these ratings after being assessed on different levels but, our Achilles Heel in this endeavor is water supply being we don’t have fire hydrants like the city departments.
“We are currently in the process of installing a 10,000-gallon water tank at our department that we hope will aid in being able to get water to the fire scene quicker. This task is almost completed and only lacks a few components. Last month, we submitted a grant for new turnout gear for all of our firemen with the help of one of the fire chiefs in our county. Most of our gear is over 20 years old and is in bad shape and we hope we are granted our request,” the spokesman said.
Published in The Messenger 9.22.11