EGR Gives Fire Truck To Navajos

February 11, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — In true West Michigan partnership fashion, the East Grand Rapids Department of Public Safety, City of East Grand Rapids, A-1 Transport and Gelock Heavy Movers joined together to donate a fire truck from the city to the Navajo Nation Police and Fire Department, located in Window Rock, Ariz.

This will be the first aerial fire truck the Navajo Nation Police and Fire Department has ever had and the partnerships it developed out of were a long time coming.

It all started when the EGR Department of Public Safety and the City of EGR attempted to sell the 1977 aerial fire truck when a new one arrived. When no interest arose for a few months, the city decided to look into a department with limited financial resources and need for such a truck.

Chief Dorothy Lameman Fulton of the Navajo Nation Police and Fire Department was contacted and expressed great interest for the aerial. The Navajo Nation is 26,000 square miles centered in the four-corner area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.

The Navajo Nation is a non-casino tribe, with very limited financial resources, and very little in the way of first line police and fire equipment; much of the current equipment has been supplied from other departments.

When the decision was made to donate the truck to the Navajo Nation, transportation was the next issue.

The decision was made to have the aerial shipped either on a freight train or by truck. A number of railroads were contacted and only CSX showed interest in donating its service. However, could do so only as far as Chicago. No other railroad could donate service for the remaining distance.

At this point, Roger Hoff, president of A-1 Transport, stepped in. He called DPS Chief Peter Gallagher and stated he would transport the fire truck to Window Rock for free. The only problem was he did not have a trailer big enough and low enough for a truck of this size.

Collaboration was then needed between A-1 and a company with access to a heavy duty trailer. Gelock Heavy Movers was contacted and agreed to supply the trailer and loading expertise for the move.

In addition to the services being provided by Hoff and Scott Covey of Gelock Heavy Movers, Peter Wege of the Wege Foundation offered to underwrite the expenses of the EGR Public Safety Department trainer that will meet the truck when it arrives in Window Rock.

The purpose of the trainer is to train and certify all tribal fire officials on the operation of the aerial truck, explain all maintenance requirements and go over specific idiosyncrasies of this particular vehicle. In addition, EGR will be sending equipment and materials received from other local fire departments to give to the Navajo Nation Fire Department.

Tentatively, the truck will be driven from EGR to Gelock where it will be loaded, weighed and made ready for transport on Thursday, Feb. 13.

On Feb. 15, Hoff will bring the truck back to EGR for a brief ceremony, with the truck departing at approximately 10 a.m.

It is anticipated that it will take from three to four days for the truck to reach Window Rock. The aerial fire truck will be unloaded and training will take place the next day.           

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