Funding for new fire engine on the way

November 01, 2000
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesWhen Congressman Elton Gallegly, a fire engine buff and collector, got a chance to ride on the Santa Paula Fire Department’s 1954 Mack, it was a treat: but Fire Chief Paul Skeels and city officials were the delighted ones with Rep. Gallegly’s announcement that he has secured $300,000 for the SPFD to purchase a new engine and equipment.“There are very few engines that last more than a few years,” Rep. Gallegly noted as he toured Fire Station 2 and saw the SPFD’s aging equipment.Rep. Gallegly has been working on securing the SPFD fire engine funding for about six months, and included the request in the VA/HUD Appropriations Bill expected to be adopted by the House and Senate later this week. He also requested $150,000 in the bill for the Santa Clara River Enhancement & Management Plan.Rep. Gallegly noted that in 1999 the SPFD responded to 1,726 emergency calls, making the department one of the busiest in Ventura County.“The Santa Paula Fire Department provides fire protection, rescue, emergency and medical services for not only the city, but those thousands of commuters who pass daily on Highway 126 and Highway 150,” he said. “The new fire engine and equipment will make a huge difference in the health and safety of Santa Paula residents. . .having the right equipment at the right time often means the difference between rescue and catastrophe.”SPFD Chief Paul Skeels said he is eager to purchase a new engine: “Don’t do what Washington, D.C. did,” laughed Rep. Gallegly. “They purchased four new aerials at $1.1 million each but didn’t have a single fire house they could fit in.”
“I’m always happy when we get something nice from the government, especially for the fire department which needs so much,” said Mayor Rick Cook.Rep. Gallegly said securing the funding for the fire truck “will better protect the city of Santa Paula. . .the Santa Paula Creek Flood Project [using over $14 million in federal funds Rep. Gallegly obtained] has been a passion for me and then I got all fired up over the fire engine. I’m very pleased to be able to help provide fire and flood protection to Santa Paula.”Rep. Gallegly’s - who owns a 1961 Crown fire engine - was eager to take the offered ride in the SPFD 1954 Mack engine.“I was very surprised and pleased,” at the news of the fire engine allocation, said Chief Skeels. “I’ve tried for so many years to get a new engine. . .we were fortunate to even get the used Beck,” purchased by the department in the late 1990s.As Rep. Gallegly was driven back to the station by SPFD Eng. Jerry Byrum, Chief Skeels affectionately eyed the 1954 Mack engine and said it will be kept as a parade unit.

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