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Rescue squad gives equipment away

October 7, 2012 12:10 am


Falmouth Rescue Squad and Fire Department (Company 1) members work with equipment that was given away.


For the second time in two years, volunteer fire and rescue members from the Fredericksburg area are reaching out to their brothers and sisters in Alabama.

The Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad is donating a set of extrication tools--used when someone is trapped in a vehicle--to the Nicol Volunteer Fire Department in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Colonial Beach recently bought a light-duty rescue truck from the Ladysmith Volunteer Rescue Squad in Caroline County. Colonial Beach rescuers don't handle extrication duties; the Colonial Beach Volunteer Fire Department does.

So Rescue Chief Wesley Melson decided to sell the tools, which were barely used.

Then he got a call from Billy Sullivan of the Port Royal Volunteer Fire Department. Sullivan had arranged the donation of a van-style ambulance to the Nicol department in January 2011.

He wondered if Colonial Beach would like to donate the Hurst extrication tools, which include rams, chains and other items needed for light-duty rescue, to the Nicol department.

"The membership just overwhelmingly supported it," Melson said about the plan. "It's just great being able to help out another department."

Sullivan was at the Port Royal station in 2011 when Nicol chief Gaston Wilson stopped by, on his way to visit relatives in Colonial Beach.

A bond formed between the two men as they shared stories about fire calls and funding problems. Sullivan not only suggested the donation of the ambulance, along with several sets of turnout gear, but he also drove 12 hours to deliver it.

While in Alabama, Sullivan and fellow Port Royal volunteer Wayland Carter rode in the Tuscaloosa Christmas parade on a Nicol fire engine.

Nicol Chief Wilson and his wife, Kathy, were on their way to visit her cousin, Alberta Parkinson, when they first met Sullivan. Parkinson's late husband, Walter, was a charter member of the Colonial Beach Volunteer Fire Department.

Chief Wilson is grateful for the generosity of his newfound friends.

"They've just been a godsend to us, especially Billy Sullivan," Wilson said. "We're blessed by having good friends up there. We don't have the money--we operate on less than $10,000 a year--and we wouldn't have equipment if they hadn't given it to us."

Nicol plans to share the extrication tools with the nearby Wiley Volunteer Fire Department, which is in "worse shape than we are," Wilson said.

Wiley is about 15 miles from Tuscaloosa and has two coal mines and gas wells, as well as log trucks that are part of the timber industry. After explosions in the mines or wrecks with these big vehicles, people are trapped, and extrication tools are needed, Wilson said.

Sullivan had some members from Falmouth Volunteer Fire Department test the tools this week, and he said they worked perfectly. The firefighters used the system on a car donated by Sullivan's Towing and Recovery in Stafford County.

Sullivan and the Colonial Beach squad are looking for financial help to deliver the tools to Alabama. Melson estimates the gas and hotels will cost about $1,200.

Donations can be sent to the Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad, 225 Dennison St., Colonial Beach, Va., 22443. Attn: Pat FitzGerald.

Bill Schumm, who posts items about fire and rescue departments on his website,, said the story should be an inspiration to others. Often, departments donates old pumpers and used running gear to Central and South America.

"Let this story be a reminder to you that we have many fire departments right here in the USA that need our help, too," Schumm wrote. "Keep them on your list."

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

The Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad gave the Colonial Beach Police Department its former ambulance, which the police will use for evidence recovery, warrant executions and traffic details.

"The four-wheel drive capability will be so helpful during floods or heavy snow," said Police Chief Kenneth Blevins Sr. "This is another example of different local agencies working together to make things better for the community."

The police department's new mobile assistance unit is a 1996 Ford E350.

Shown here are (from left) CBPD Officer Edward Moss, CBPD Chief Kenneth Blevins Sr., Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad's Rescue Chief Wesley Melson and CBPD Lt. Kenneth Blevins Jr.

Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.