The North Helena Volunteer Fire Department has added another firetruck to its station in Easleyville.
The Tangipahoa Parish Fire District No. 1, in Amite, agreed to part ways with its popular truck, “Big Bird,” and sell it to the department in St. Helena Parish.
“The entire organization of Tangipahoa Parish Fire District No. 1 is very proud in the fact that we know that Big Bird is getting a wonderful new home and they will take care of it just like we did and put it to good use,” Tangipahoa Parish Fire District Chief Bruce Cutrer said.
The fire apparatus was purchased with Fire District 3 tax-generated funds and will replace one of North Helena’s tanker trucks, North Helena Fire Chief Rita Allen said.
The truck hauls 2,500 gallons of water, the same as the truck it replaced.
The station, Allen said, now has over 10,500 gallons of water on the fire apparatus if the entire fleet responds to a fire in the district.
It also is available if help is requested by neighboring fire departments.
Water and manpower, Allen said, are the commodities that are always in short supply at a fire in the parish, because there are no fire hydrants. “We can purchase the equipment to fight a fire; we can’t purchase manpower when we are a volunteer-manned fire department,” Allen said.
“The tender (equipment) will aid in the extinguishment of a fire, and will improve our response time to an incident,” she said.
Tangipahoa had many years of useful service from Big Bird, Allen said, and plans are to continue the use of the firetruck to fight fires in St. Helena Parish.
“Big Bird just spread his wings and settled in a new nest at the station on David Allen Road and now has new friends with our department,” Allen said.
Chief Bruce Cutrer said the name Big Bird goes all the way back to 1984 when the original truck was new.
“One of the firefighters said it was just like Big Bird, and it stuck,” he said.
Cutrer said Big Bird had a jet dump system and was the first in the area to have such a system.
Tangipahoa Parish Fire District No. 1 purchased Big Bird II in August, Cutrer said.
Custom-built by Ferrara Fire Apparatus, of Holden, it can pump out 1,000 gallons of water per minute.
Big Bird II’s major advantage over its predecessor has nothing to do with the water it carries, Cutrer said.
Instead, it was designed to carry service company equipment, such as extra air tanks, lights, saws and more, which is important for fire insurance ratings.