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Wildcat buys fire truck
Volunteers raise $38K in fundraiser
1 Wildcat Fundraising pic1
Station leader John Tarantini is one of 14 volunteer personnel at Fire Station 8 that services the Wildcat community in western Dawson County. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Volunteers have raised more than $38,000 over the past year for a replacement fire engine at Station 8 in western Dawson County.

The donation will be combined with $3,500 from the government of neighboring Pickens County and about $5,700 from Dawson County to buy a used engine.

John Tarantini, leader of the station on Monument Road in the Wildcat community, said the vehicle will be better suited for the mountainous terrain, with automatic transmission and air brakes. It will also improve safety for personnel.

"We've had a couple of emergency situations up here that led to emergency workers realizing they couldn't get around up here as easy as they might have thought they could," he said.

Billy Thurmond, director of Dawson County Emergency Services, commended the group of volunteers and homeowners who took the initiative to improve fire service in the area.

"It's a community that when they come up with an idea to improve it, they take control and decide to help," he said. "They've been great partners with emergency services with improving their fire protection.

"We're very pleased with the efforts they've put into it. You really couldn't ask for a better group of people that's willing to make their community better."

John Edwards is one of the original 14 volunteers that banded together a few years back to bring the fire station to the area.

He and others also helped promote the need for a replacement engine by sending out letters and spreading the word.

"I think there are 700 property owners in the Wildcat community," he said. "We're a big community up here and people really didn't know that. That helped make the case for this fire station.

"We wrote out a letter to the property owners and gave a case about why they needed it too. That it wasn't just something someone else wanted, it was something that every property owner needed."

Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford called the Wildcat community's dedication and passion toward fire protection a leading example of community stewardship.

"These folks are a great example of a grassroots effort," he said.

According to Swafford, the community's work has evolved from local awareness and obtaining Fire Wise recognition to assisting with design and funding for a fire station and undergoing the necessary training to support it.