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February 2009

Little Silver by CACKIE SCOTT
1st Responder Correspondant

They say "Good things come in small packages." The Volunteer Fire Department in Little Silver, a borough of almost six thousand people in Monmouth County proves that they understand this maxim. They recently rehabilitated a 1984 E-One Tilt-cab Heavy Rescue Truck. Because its small size makes it useful in a wider variety of situations than the new larger rescue trucks, the fire department decided to upgrade the older truck and keep it in service, saving the town considerable money.

Originally chosen for it's reasonable size, Rescue #2386 has proven repeatedly that the ability to maneuver it through crowded streets, into drive ways and other tight spots makes it invaluable to the department. In addition, Ed Burdge, the fire department's Chief Engineer for over 30 years, says that everyone in the department is comfortable driving it, unlike some of the bigger rigs.

It is always second truck on the scene for any call. First to arrive is the engine which has water pumping capacity. Next is the little rescue truck, filled with the items necessary to the firefighters work: a generator, smoke fans, scene lighting, salvage tarps, many air paks and their bulky "refills", the air bottles. Soon all the rest of the equipment arrives, including a new, bigger rescue truck; but second spot always belongs to the little rescue truck from Florida.

Ed Burdge and his wife, Sandy, a member of the First Aid Squad, have had reason to wish that the truck wasn't so small. In 1984 when they originally picked it up at the E-One factory in Ocala, Florida, they spent two days driving it home at its maximum speed of 50 miles an hour. They took turns driving, but during a thunderstorm the first night out, they decided to pull into a truck stop and try and get some real sleep.

Sandy, who is tiny, could lay down in the cab, but Ed is tall, so he retired to the back of the truck to try and sleep on one of the benches there. Unfortunately, the benches were only 14-18" wide; not adequate even if you sleep on your side. He gave it fifteen minutes and then roused Sandy to keep going.

Coincidentally, the rescue truck arrived in Little Silver on the night of the big fire at the Freehold Raceway. After two solid days of driving from the factory in Florida, the intrepid Burdge's had to drive past the fire and park the truck in the firehouse. Unfortunately it hadn't yet been fitted out with any of the extensive range of equipment it was designed to carry.

Missing the big one is supposed to happen only to fishermen but there have been plenty of calls since to make up for it. Among other things, Rescue 2386 used to carry the extrication equipment for getting people safely out of crashed cars, according to Fire Chief Nick Hubbard. Car crash calls have outnumbered building fire calls for a long time.

When the 16 year old truck began to show signs of age, Ed Burdge says he never even considered replacing the unit because of its usefulness. Instead, Rescue Truck #2386 was refurbished O by Valtek, "The" Truckbody shop in Paterson, NJ, which specializes in repairing and repainting fire truck bodies.

The improvements consisted of installing updated safety and visibility features and a few shelving configuration changes to allow easier access to the battery and storage cabinets. A new siren and lighting modifications make the truck safer and easier to use. New louvered doors allow the crew to carry fuel in a ventilated area.

The entire truck was cleaned, sanded and repainted; the diamond plate was cleaned and polished to a nice shine. The Little Silver Fire Department chose to stick with their traditional red paint color scheme using the highest quality Axalta Imron paint and a clear coat for added durability. Under the demanding conditions of wind, salt and sand in areas near the shore, durabil ity is a supreme consideration.They also decided to have Ed May, the renowned decorative artist, apply the call letters and logos in an appropriate silver leaf rather than the fire services' usual gold.

Little Silver is an unusual name for a town. Some have speculated that the name derives from the price of the land when bought from the natives; others think the myriad silvery waterways provided inspiration. Historical documents, however, prove the name came from an estate owned by George Parker in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. His sons settled in New Jersey in 1667. The Portsmouth estate was in turn named for the town of Little Silver (now Silverton) in northwest Devonshire England. A nurseryman named J.T. Lovett made it official by petitioning the US government to adopt the name in 1878.

1st Responder NewspaperReprinted by permission.