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Land O'Lakes firefighters get new tanker

(ran PAS edition)

A Plant City trucking company has donated a water tanker to the Land O'Lakes Volunteer Fire Department.

Claude Miranda, a 51-year-old volunteer firefighter who has been with the department since February, solicited the donation from Montgomery Truck Lines to replace a road-worn 1964 Fruehauf tanker.

"Unfortunately, Land O'Lakes doesn't have many large businesses that could afford to donate a tanker to us," Miranda said. "We're fortunate that this trucking company in Plant City is so community-minded and supports our department."

The department uses a water tanker to refill the fire engine's supply, Miranda said. That proves particularly useful in parts of Land O'Lakes that have no fire hydrants.

The town's fire department relies on residents and businesses to pay annual dues because it does not receive county tax money. And Pasco County Fire Rescue, although it has a mutual-aid agreement with Land O'Lakes, does not respond to most calls in the community.

So far, the volunteer department has collected about $56,000 in dues to cover operating and maintenance costs for the year. Annually, firefighters say, it costs about $80,000 to hold steady.

Many Land O'Lakes residents have paid their dues, but firefighters have said they would like to see more generosity from local businesses.

Miranda noted, however, that some businesses belong to national chains and must answer to corporate headquarters.

Despite that, Wal-Mart manager Don Thompson helped the department refurbish a revamped brush truck by giving firefighters store credit for lights, paint, wiring, switches and mirrors.

Land O'Lakes Scuba, just south of the fire station on U.S. 41, fills air tanks for free.

Besides donations, the department also seeks retired firefighters and dispatchers to work at the station during the day.

For information, call 996-2610.