North Madison Firefighters Drive 800 Miles to Donate Truck to Tiny Indiana Town
The donated North Madison fire truck is shown refueling during its journey to a new home in New Market, Indiana. (Photo courtesy of the North Madison Volunteer Fire Company)
The camaraderie and solidarity of firefighters transcends differences in geography—something the North Madison Volunteer Fire Company (NMVFC) proved last month as members drove more than 800 miles on a day off to help another department in need.
On a Saturday in late May, four members of the NMVFC climbed into a semi-retired fire engine Madison had purchased in 1993 and drove to meet firefighters from the tiny community of New Market, Indiana, a town of about 700 people that had been relying on an antiquated engine built in the 1960s.
NMVFC Lieutenant Justin Cappetta said the donation of the old engine—and the prompt response of NMVFC members when asked to make the grueling, one-day drive—is an example of Madison’s desire and drive to help out whenever possible, even in difficult times.
“It’s still a pretty decent truck,” Cappetta said. “So we figured we can try to pass it on, pay it forward to a department that really needed it.”
The New Market Fire Department was never going to have the budget to purchase a brand new engine, Capetta said, simply due to the size of the town. A NMVFC member heard about the need through a familial connection to New Market, Cappetta said, and from there, he and others quickly looked for a way to get the “mostly unused” NMVFC engine, which had essentially been replaced in by a newer model in 2018, almost halfway across the country
The long drive was the only viable way to do that without asking Madison taxpayers to front the cost of shipping the engine, according to Capetta, and was something NMVFC staff took on without complaint.
Fire Chief David Cone, Lieutenant Steve Brunelle, and firefighters Paul Harris and Ed Wolff made up the volunteer road trip crew, according to Cappetta, trading off shifts to reach Somerset, Pennsylvania, a halfway point where three New Market firefighters met them after making a similar drive.
Cappetta said the New Market department was “ecstatic” to receive the new engine, and planned to keep NMVFC’s logo on the truck, partly as a sign of respect, and partly because they simply liked the logo’s design.
“The brotherhood in the fire service runs very deep, so it’s just something that we do. We help brothers all over the place, and we get helped by other fire departments in time of need,” Cappetta said.
Many of the New Market firefighters have training in the kind of mechanical skills that will allow them to fix up and maintain the 1993 engine to last a long time, according to Cappetta.