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Donated New York fire truck gets new life in one of Tennessee's smallest towns

The Rugby community in Morgan County didn't have the proper equipment and resources to save two buildings that burned last year. The Commack Fire Dept. changed that.

RUGBY, Tenn. — A small Morgan County community is safer after getting a surprise that will save lives. In Rugby, a new donated fire truck is the talk of the town.

Rugby is mostly quiet, with few cars passing by the historic sign and the town's R.M. Brooks Store. But, on Tuesday night, the air was filled with sirens and the sky with flashing lights.

It's the sound and sight that will save lives in the 2 mile-wide community.

"This is a big boost for Rugby, the community and everybody's fears," Fire Chief Gerald Hanwright said.

It's a fire truck, given as a gift, all the way from New York. Deputy Fire Chief Steve Dunschee helped make it happen. He's a retired New Hampshire firefighter, who reached out to his friends up north for help.

"It's a small town, and they don't have the funds or, or the ability to get a truck like this, you know, it takes a lot of time and effort," Dunschee said.

The old equipment was made in the 1970s, making it at around 50 years old.

"You just can't work with trucks that are getting that old," Dunschee said.

Commack Fire Department donated the whole truck. It was on standby during the events of Sept. 11, 2001, since the station was just 44 miles from Manhattan.

Credit: WBIR

Other nearby stations in Tennessee also donated some old equipment, such as newer hoses, to the small fire department to help make sure they had the equipment they need.

"It's a big deal, it's brothers taking care of brothers," Dunschee said. "They don't want anyone to be left behind, and they said they would do whatever they could do to help, and that's what they did."

The truck getting new life will likely save others. Two buildings burned down in the town last year, and the team didn't have the proper equipment to save them. One was a home and is now a complete loss. The other was a café. 

"Rugby hadn't had a fire in a long time, and it kind of woke everybody up," Hanwright said. "I used to only have two members, now I've got five, but I mean that's a big improvement for a few months."

Now they are able to offer mutual aid and keep this historic community a little safer and filled with the sound of firefighters rushing to save lives.

The truck should be ready to roll out for service in the coming weeks.

However, officials said that the department still needs help with donations.

To help, you can email clearforkrugbyvfd@gmail.com, or send mail to Clear Fork Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 79 Rugby, TN 37733.