MORRELL – Sept. 11 galvanized attention on the necessity of firefighters and emergency personnel.
Millions of Americans have sent money to fire departments in New York and Washington, D.C., but local fire departments need help, too.
The Morrell Volunteer Fire Department of Dunbar Township has begun its annual letter donation drive. The department needs to raise at least $10,000 in this fund drive, according to Assistant Chief Ross Rock. “We pulled out all the levers about three weeks ago, we sent 1,099 mailings to Morrell and Dunbar Township residents. It’s hard, because about 60 percent of the residents in our service area are on fixed incomes. But the people you would never expect to, send what they can, while others, who could afford it, take the fire department for granted. We always need funds and volunteers.”
Part of the money raised this fall will go towards a new truck, Rock said.
“We would like to replace our mini-pumper. Our current one was built in 1974. We bought it five years ago from the Hopwood VFD,” Rock said.
The department also has a 1,500 gallon Seagraves pumper, built in 1976 and refurbished in 1988; a 1980 Chevy pumper with a 1,000 gallon capacity, a 1987 squad truck and a 1995 300 gallon tanker.
“We have no specialty trucks, like ladder units,” said Rock. “Our mini-pumper is usually the first truck out on all vehicle wrecks, brush fires and other emergencies.”
In addition to fighting fires, the department assists Monarch and Dunbar fire companies, responds to accidents, flooded basements, downed power lines, snakes in attics, loose livestock and 15 years ago saved a dog trapped on the roof of the old Uniontown Waterworks in Wheeler Bottom.
“Our tankers have been in Westmoreland and Somerset counties, West Virginia and hauled drinking water to New Kensington when they needed it in 1989 or 1990,” said Rock.
Besides firefighting, the Morrell fire department also sponsors first aid and CPR classes with Fayette EMS and the American Red Cross, holds 88-hour basic firefighter essentials certification classes and performs first aid. Through a Fay-Penn grant, it has an Automated External Defibrillator, which they have used twice. Two paramedics and four EMTs are members and 14 members have received AED training.
The department has 35 members on its roster; 22 are active.
Trina Leasure is one of two active women firefighters. “It’s kept me out of a lot of trouble. I always wanted to help people, to save lives, everything a girl isn’t supposed to do. It’s taught me to calm down and think about things.”
She is engaged to Doug Grimm Jr., one of two junior firefighters and son of 1st Lt. Doug Grimm Sr.
“We’re all a big family,” the younger Grimm said.
“We have several second and third generation members,” said Rock. “It comes down the line. This company was established Feb. 27, 1927 as a bucked brigade with a bell responding to a fire on Dutch Hill Road. We’re preparing for our 75th anniversary. The current station was built in 1959 with donated labor.”
Donated time is an ongoing problem for the Morrell fire company. Despite the 22 active members, daytime coverage is often sparse because most of the members work. “We always need volunteers,” said Chief Joe Neighbors.
In addition to the annual letter drive, Morrell raises money all year with ticket sales and twice-weekly bingo at the social hall. Sunday bingo starts at 6:15; admission is $3. Wednesday bingo starts at 6:45 p.m. A non-smoking room is available. The hall is also available for rental. Call (724)-628-9098 for more information or to make a donation.
Morrell VFD would also like to replace the Seagraves pumper in the next year or two, but funds are tight.