Golfers Hope Tourney Will Help Pass Christian Purchase New Fire Truck - - The News for South Mississippi

Golfers Hope Tourney Will Help Pass Christian Purchase New Fire Truck

At the height of Katrina, Pass Christian's Second Street fire station had four feet of water rushing through it.

"There was stuff floating through here," Chief Rich Marvil remembered. "You would have thought you were on the Colorado River." 

Marvil ordered the people inside his station house to ride out the storm in a second floor storage closet. He'll never forget what happened once Katrina's eye passed, and the water receded.

"I just told somebody give me a headcount," he said. "They gave me a headcount and hollered out we've got 21 plus you. I said, 'Well thank God, I've got what I started with.'"

Marvil saved his personnel. But, Pass Christian lost every piece of rescue equpment it owned. The hurricane destroyed hoses, fire boots, and all seven city fire trucks.

"We're doing the best we can with what we've got," he said.

What he's got are donated trucks from Harrison County, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York.

"That truck right there is an 1980, I want to say it's an 83 model," the chief said, pointing to a yellow truck parked in the station. "We're using these trucks as first run truck."

The fact that it's more than 20 years old has caused Chief Marvil to have more than a few sleepless nights.

"I don't want to have to be able to depend on one of these trucks not knowing if it's going to pump water when I send one of my firemen in there," the chief said. "I want to know that this truck is going to do what it's gotta do when it gets there. And with this old stuff, you don't know."

Another example of what worried the chief was parked at the Oaks golf course. It was a donated truck. And it did work. However, it was almost 30 years old. And the chief said it really shouldn't be in service.

So how does Pass Christian take Perdido Beach's gift out of service? In this case, it got friends to organize and play in a "Drive for a Truck" golf tournament at the Oaks. Dwight Gordon played in the tournament.

"We've had all sorts of people pitch in and help from day one," Gordon said. "Today is just another one of those events where everybody has come together to help out the city of Pass Christian, the city of Pass Christian Fire Department get something to help protect the community."

Based on bids, Gordon said a new truck would cost $179,000. And insurance won't foot the bill. So the friends of the Pass Christian Fire Department are trying to raise funds. Until they have enough money, the chief must count on his post Katrina donations.

"It's older equipment, but we're hanging in there," he said.

Pass Christian is down five full time firefighters since the hurricane. However, the city also uses a volunteer force. So the department has enough rescue personnel to protect the Pass Christian community.

by Brad Kessie

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