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Lower Currituck donates fire truck to school program

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Capt. Willie Wimmer (left) of the Lower Currituck Volunteer Fire Department discusses the department's donation Saturday of one its firetrucks, called "Big Red” by his department, to Currituck County High School for use as a training tool by students taking public safety courses. Behind Wimmer is a fire and rescue truck that was prepared for an equipment demonstration at Saturday’s “Hawgs and Dogs” event.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Saturday, September 9, 2017

HARBINGER — When it comes to donating school supplies, firefighters in Currituck go big.

The Lower Currituck Volunteer Fire Department donated a fire truck to Currituck County High School's public safety program on Saturday. It made the donation during its “Hawgs and Dogs” fundraiser held at the Outer Banks Harley-Davidson dealership in Harbinger.

That donation puts Currituck's program well ahead of the curve, public safety instructor Wayne Turner said Saturday before accepting the truck from Lower Currituck Fire Chief Vernon Hart. Few high school public safety programs in the area have vehicles to practice with, he said, describing the fire engine as a major asset for the high school's two-year-old public safety program.

“Hopefully (the program) will get a lot more interest,” he said, also noting about 75 students are enrolled in public safety instruction this semester.

Hart described the donation as a win-win for both the community and public safety officials. Volunteer firefighters are increasingly hard to come by, making it more important to try to recruit them in high schools, he said.

Also present Saturday, Lower Currituck VFD Fire Capt. Willie Wimmer said the 1984 fire engine has been in the department’s employ for 12 years. It's getting donated now because it's an open-cab truck and fire departments are phasing those out due to safety concerns, he explained. The department has gotten a new truck that encloses all firefighters during transport, he said.

Though open-cab trucks are falling out of use, Wimmer said the truck will still be a valuable learning aid. The truck is still equipped and handled like a modern truck, so it will give students experience loading and unloading hoses and other equipment, he said. He also noted trainees under 18 aren't allowed to work on live fires.

Asked about the value of the donated truck, Wimmer said fire departments don't buy open-cab trucks anymore, so it was probably worth $5,000 to $10,000.

Saturday's event also had another purpose: to raise money for a battery-powered “jaws of life” extrication tool to help first responders remove motorists trapped in wrecked vehicles. Wimmer explained that the Lover Currituck VFD’s current extrication tool requires a pump and other cumbersome equipment that can require three or four firefighters to operate. The battery-powered tool is an all-in-one device that one person can easily use, he explained. The mobile but powerful tool is costly, however — $10,000, he said.

To show how the tool works, firefighters also used one on loan for an extrication demonstration on Saturday. The event also included a raffle, T-shirts and food and drinks for attendees.

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