A Mean Green Machine
Grissettown Longwood Fire and Rescue department’s new custom heavy rescue truck serves a multitude of vital rescue operations.
Studies show that the color green can inspire creativity, and the Grissettown Longwood Fire and Rescue department proves that concept with its new green heavy rescue truck. “The guys built the truck and decided what they wanted on it,” says Talbot “Tal” Grissett, fire chief at the station since 2003. “It blows you away how much equipment we carry.”
He nods to his Assistant Fire Chief Richard Teague, Jr. “Rich was the lead person in designing the truck. He’s the mastermind behind it.” “Everybody had a part in it,” Teague hastens to say. All five full-time and eight part-time members of the department and its half-dozen volunteers contributed to the design of the 37-foot-long, 54,000-pound heavy rescue truck they acquired in April 2021, he says. Heavy rescue as defined by the North Carolina Association of Rescue & E.M.S., Inc. includes advanced levels of all rescue, advanced extrication and basic life support functions as an initial responder with minimum advanced equipment.
This department has gone beyond the minimum. The truck is equipped with hydraulic jacks, axes, innumerable saws, chains, drills and hundreds of other pieces of equipment.
“It’s like a big toolbox,” Grissett says. “You know from experience what you need.”
Teague calculated dimensions for every situation, such as where the steps should go on the truck, their length and the space between them. He designed the pull-out drawers and included hooks where equipment could hang.
“Rich got the scrap aluminum, cut it, fabricated brackets and welded them in the truck where he wanted them,” Grissett says.
A firefighter with the department since 2001 and the first paid employee of the department, Teague was encouraged to explain his part despite wanting to stay in the background. “After 20 years of playing with fire trucks, you kind of figure out how to make things more efficient,” he says and emphasizes, “All the guys had some say in that vehicle, and we take pride in that. Everybody here had input on the color, stickers, how many people sit in the cab, where things should be, everything.”
Which brings up the question of the color. Why green? “Green fits the Halloween Haunted Trail,” Teague says.
The Haunted Trail began in 2008 to raise money for equipment. The department designed the trail, which has the reputation of being the scariest Halloween attraction throughout several counties. Firefighters have witnessed grown men cringe and become physically sick on the spot. Its signature hearse with HAUNTED TRAIL painted in bright green letters down the length of both sides sits in a prominent position at the station.
The department also realizes that studies indicate lime green is a better color for fire trucks than red because it grabs more attention, especially at night.
The U.S. Fire Administration confirmed in 2009 that yellow/lime green and orange are better colors than red for fire trucks. However, the public recognizes red for fire trucks and may not realize that fire trucks can be green.
Grissett adds another meaning. “We’re going green,” he says with a cheerful laugh. “This truck has battery operated tools and only one gas powered back-up pump for extrication.” Besides being certified to do heavy rescue, the new truck is also certified for agricultural, high angle, confined space, medical rescues and wilderness rescues. It recently held large animal rescue training to earn that certification.
“We’ve always been big on rescues,” Grissett says. “About 90 percent of the county rescuers have gotten their training here. We’re classified as a training facility.” Malcolm Smith, fire administrator for Brunswick County, says of the 21 fire departments in Brunswick County, five others besides Grissettown Longwood have a heavy rescue truck. The majority of the rescues are due to vehicle accidents, which result in extractions or use of the various tools and equipment on the truck, he says. “I’m glad we have it at [Grissettown Longwood],” he says. “It’s a newer rescue truck. They are doing a great job there.”
John Pollock, a member of the department board, says people are in awe of the rescue truck. “People from other fire departments say, ‘Why didn’t I think of that.’”
Grissett says Pollock started the Christmas train show, another popular fundraiser. Carolyn Gnam, secretary-treasurer of the board, says the department uses discretion when spending. “It’s the best $750,000 we’ve ever spent! It’s an amazing piece of equipment,” she says of the rescue truck.
“We’re proud of what we’ve done,” Grissett says. “We are at the point where we can operate and purchase what we need.”
Grissettown Longwood Fire & Rescue
758 Longwood Road, Ocean Isle Beach