Downstate companies offer Hackleburg hoses, fire gear for members - Dover, DE
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Delaware State News DOVER — On April 27 a tornado tore through the tiny town of Hackleburg, Ala., killing 29 people and leaving mass destruction in its wake. As the town attempted to rebuild after the storm, Delaware’s fire companies came to the rescue.
Blades Volunteer Fire Co. stepped up and offered to donate a fi re truck to the Hackleburg Volunteer Fire Department, and other companies in Sussex and Kent counties donated hose, fire gear, boots, ladders, nozzles, pagers and enough masks for each of the company’s members.
“It’s a great showing of support within the fire service,” said Todd Reilly, president of Blades Volunteer Fire Co.
Mr. Reilly said fire company members decided to contact firefighters in Alabama about donating the truck after seeing the devastation caused by the April 27 tornado. If the truck was sold for market value, it would have only garnered about $7,000, given that it was 26 years old, he said.
Through the Internet, Mr. Reilly tracked down two members of the Alabama Association of Fire Chiefs and proposed the idea of donating the truck. They started the selection process to find which company would benefi t the most from it.
“ They determined the need and from there it just blossomed,” he said.
A new fi re truck would have cost the Alabama fi re company anywhere from $35$40,000, Mr. Reilly said. But you can’t put a price on the actions taken by the members of the Blades Fire Co.
“For these guys in Hackleburg, it’s priceless,” he said.
The fire truck was donated on June 17 in a ceremony held at the fi rehouse in Blades. Chief A.J. Martin, of the Tuscaloosa Fire/Rescue Co., and Chief John Lord, of the Rocky Ridge Fire Department came to Delaware to accept the truck on behalf of the Hackleburg Volunteer Fire Co.
Mr. Reilly and other members of the Blades Fire Co. didn’t publicize the event, leaving even Gov. Markell out of the mix.
“ We tried to keep it pretty quiet in Delaware,” he said. “ We don’t do it for recognition. We just do it for the brotherhood of volunteerism.”
Gov. Markell said he first heard of the firefighters’ actions through Facebook, where a woman from Hackleburg posted a message on the state of Delaware’s profile page.
Erica Szeremet thanked the company for donating the fire truck and wrote: “I hope under different circumstances some day we can return the favor to you guys in some way. I have never been to Delaware, but given the chance, I hope some day to visit your awesome state. You guys did such a selfl ess thing and I just wanted to let you know we really appreciate it.”
Mr. Reilly said he too has received numerous emails from residents of Hackleburg thanking he and his fellow firefi ghters for their actions.
Gov. Markell commended all of the fi re companies for donating equipment to the residents of Hackleburg and presented a tribute Thursday to members of Blades Volunteer Fire Co.
“ When I heard about this, I really wanted to tell you in person what an example it sets,” he said. “It helps trigger this wave of people helping each other, even people not in the fire service. I know for sure that those folks in Alabama appreciate it too.”
Fire companies who donated equipment include the Felton Volunteer Fire Co., Seaford Volunteer Fire Department, Greenwood Volunteer Fire Co., Laurel Volunteer Fire Co., and Harrington Fire Co.
Staff writer Jessica Eisenbrey can be reached at 741-8242 or [email protected].
Check out for more information and pictures. http://www.blades71.com/gallery.cfm?id=165&ss=1