ROXBURY — More than 100 people attended the Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department open house and chili feed on Nov. 29. The event was held in order to showcase the department's new building and brush truck.
"It surprised me how many people were out," said volunteer firefighter Scott Anderson. "We were pretty happy with the turnout."
Completed in September, the new building was constructed to house the department's tall tanker and its new brush truck.
"This was just an empty lot and we needed more room for bigger trucks, so we made a taller building," said Jeremy Erickson, another Roxbury fire department volunteer.
"We had all five trucks crammed in that one little building," Anderson added. "It was very crowded."
The new brush truck has several firefighting features, including having side and front water sweep nozzles that can be controlled by remote from the cab.
"You can just flip a switch and it'll shoot (water) along the fire line," Erickson said.
The truck can also hold more water — an important feature for times when not enough people are available to drive the department's vehicles to a fire.
"It has 900 gallons instead of a little pickup, which holds 400," Erickson said.
"A lot of fire departments are going to trucks like this now versus pickups," Anderson agreed. "...We run into an issue of manpower around here because everybody's volunteer and most people work during the day. A lot of times you're lucky to even get one person per truck."
The department is switching over to vehicles with automatic drive, enabling more volunteers to operate them in tricky driving situations including muddy roads.
"A fire truck is only as good as the operator," Erickson said. "...You've got to watch where you go. Everything's at least four-wheel drive."
Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department covers an area of 108 square miles and averages 25 to 30 calls per year.
"We rely a lot on mutual aid from neighboring districts. That helps out a bunch and we're glad to help them," Anderson said.
Funding for the new truck and building came from local tax assessments and private donations.
"We don't have much of a budget out here but every little bit helps," Erickson said.
"You've got to continually update stuff," Anderson said. "We were so far behind that we had a lot of catching up to do, but we've been trying and I think we're doing pretty well. ...As of right now, we're pretty set, but you've always got to be planning ahead and saving money back."