Fire trucks inappropriately donated to the City of Cedarville were given by the former Jenny Lind Fire Department chief, the Cedarville mayor said.
Former heads of the Jenny Lind Fire Department, which was dissolved by the Sebastian County Quorum Court on March 21, offered five fire trucks and other equipment to the city for free, said Cedarville Mayor Mark Eisenhower.
Points of contact for the donation were former chief Brian Allison and former training coordinator Dean Allison, said Don Rosson with the Cedarville Fire Department.
Cedarville city heads had no idea that the equipment was given inappropriately, Eisenhower and Rosson said.
Rural fire departments such as Cedarville’s often receive donations or used equipment from other departments at low costs because of their budgetary limitations, Eisenhower said.
“Rural departments struggle,” Rosson said. “They struggle for budgets, they struggle for equipment, they struggle for volunteers.”
But because the donation was so large and unexpected, Eisenhower told members of the department to first do an inventory of the trucks and equipment and refrain from immediate use.
“I was leery … it seemed too good to be true,” Eisenhower said.
Eisenhower was right, because he was contacted this week by Sebastian County Judge David Hudson, who said no one was given authority to donate the trucks and equipment to Cedarville.
Wrongfully given to the city were an ambulance, a pumper truck, two brush trucks and a service vehicle in addition to fire gear, Eisenhower said. All were held by Cedarville and returned to Sebastian County on March 30.
Members of the Cedarville Fire Department were told by the former Jenny Lind fire chief that the Jenny Lind Fire Department board met and agreed to donate the equipment to Cedarville, Rosson said.
“There were signed documents,” Rosson said.
A letter was sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency requesting a change in ownership for equipment purchased with the use of a FEMA grant, Eisenhower said.
A media release from the Sebastian County Judge’s Office states that after the Jenny Lind district was assigned March 21 to neighboring fire departments, the Jenny Lind board met March 24 to determine how to allocate its resources.
Those resources were to go to other Sebastian County fire departments, the release states.
“There are two fire stations serving the Jenny Lind Fire Fighting District [sic], both of which are deeded to Sebastian County to support fire protection response to the Jenny Lind residents,” the release states. “The fire trucks and supporting gear were reviewed…to establish an orderly transition and continued fire response.”
It was during a follow up meeting on March 29 that the trucks and equipment were discovered missing.
An incident report was filed with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department, which is continuing to investigate the location of missing equipment.
A generator and other pieces of fire apparatus were found in the yard of the former Jenny Lind Fire Chief, according to the media release.