Regardless of intentions and expertise of any Craig County First Responders team member, without the proper equipment, they are still limited in their capabilities to fully service the citizens they care for.
The Johns Creek Fire Department, Craig County Station 1, has been in need of a 3,500-gallon tanker/tender fire apparatus for quite some time and has been soliciting for donations. “This project covers the building of the truck, fully equipping the unit for service and the construction of an addition on our station to house that unit,” Jonathan Huffman, Chief 101 of the Johns Creek Fire Department, said.
The Johns Creek Volunteer Fire Department was formed in 1968. At the time of its formation, it served approximately 100 citizens within a roughly 50 square mile coverage area. “Our primary coverage area with the addition of the Black Diamond development and many new homes means we now serve near 500 citizens within roughly 100 square miles,” Huffman said. “With the implementation of mutual aid policies and agreements, we now serve nearly 18,000 citizens throughout roughly 800 square miles that cover all of Craig County, Monroe County in West Virginia and a portion of Giles County. We have worked very hard over the recent years to improve our department, and its ability to serve/protect the lives and property of our rapidly growing area and strive to meet the fire services needs added by vast modern homes and the investment citizens have in them.”
“The chassis of this truck is also specifically set up to handle the steep and difficult terrain of the roads throughout our area,” Huffman said. “Currently based upon ISO (Insurance Service Office) standards of having the capability to supply 250 gallons of water per minute on a fire scene, we can only sustain that flow rate for nine minutes and that very short amount of time does not allow for the arrival of assisting departments or establishing water shuttling operations.”
Huffman explained that this has been a long-fought issue for their department and others throughout the county.
He also shared how the ISO rates every fire department based upon individual capabilities. “This rating directly affects many homeowners’ insurance policy rates and availability,” he added.
The rating is on a scale of 1-10 with one being the best and 10 being the worst. With the limitations of rural areas departments such as Johns Creek, they are limited to a “best possible score of 8.” Currently, due to their limited water supply capability, they have a rating of 9/10.
“With the acquisition of the 3,500-gallon tanker/tender it will extend our 250GPM flow time to 23 minutes, and this vastly improves our initial fire attack capabilities and allows for water supply operations to be set up,” Huffman shared. “This also gives our department the opportunity to retest and potentially improve our ISO rating to an eight. Beyond improving our firefighting capabilities that improvement could potentially save many households within our community considerable money on their HO premiums.”
The Johns Creek Fire Department has been diligent and working hard, reaching out to major corporations across the country soliciting donations and/or sponsors to assist with their Tanker/Tender Fundraiser.
They formed a committee to address the need for significant fundraising ideas to expand their efforts outside of their immediate community. This committee consists of President Johnny Beane, Jonathan Huffman, Secretary-Treasurer Eric Day, Secretary Of Operations Victor Huffman, Board member Jerry Russo and Seconds Lt. Jessica Knight.
“The first round of 149 letters was sent to a list of very large corporations ranging from well-known manufacturers to pharmaceutical companies and service providers,” Huffman shared. Of the 149 letters, they have received two contributions totaling $6,000 thus far. The first was asked to be kept anonymous and the second was from Erie Insurance Agency. “We have received responses from approximately 30 percent of the addressed entities declining to assist. All of which were extremely profitable businesses,” he added.
On Saturday, December 2, before the Craig County Christmas parade, the Johns Creek Fire Department was presented with a check for $1,000 from Angie Guthrie-Ponton, a representative of Erie Insurance Company from Craig County. “I was very proud of Erie to help support our community,” she said. “We hope more companies and citizens help to chip in and make this project possible.”
The project cost is still an overwhelming $576,000. The Fire Dept. obtained this number by contacting numerous fire apparatus builders, fire equipment suppliers and building companies nationwide. The lowest bids from each were used.
“We are hopeful to reach this goal as quickly as possible but realize that without significant contributions outside of normal fundraising it will take time,” Huffman shared. “The contributions that we have received thus far are greatly appreciated and give us hope that more contributors will come forward and assist us in reaching our goal.”
Huffman added that this was their first attempt at fundraising outside of the community and they plan to expand its reach and send the second round of letters out to additional companies and potential sponsors.
Additionally, they have applied for the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) several times trying to obtain a tanker/tender through their funding program.
Contributions can be made to the Johns Creek Fire Department and mailed to 116 Dicks Creek Road New Castle, VA 24127. It is a 501-C3 charitable organization, making all donations tax deductible. Individuals or companies and businesses can simply mail in contributions and donations. Also, they can choose to sponsor specific portions of this project.
For additional information, contact JCVFD Chief Jonathan Huffman by email at [email protected] or by phone at (540)765-8341.
“Every contributor or sponsor will be acknowledged periodically throughout the duration of this project and upon its completion,” Huffman shared. Also, all sponsors and significant donors will be recognized with the creation of a ‘sponsor wall’ on the station addition, media coverage, social media and the leading contributor will be recognized with the dedication and naming of the truck.”
Huffman added, “Our committee is currently searching out additional fundraising possibilities and as well. We open to any avenues to meet the needs of our department and community and hope to gain support for this project and our efforts.”