ANDOVER, Kan. For many small Kansas fire departments, making ends meet can be a struggle on limited budgets.That got worse this summer as repeated grass fires across the state caused thousands of dollars in damage to fire trucks. But one rural volunteer fire department just got a big break, thanks to a little help from some neighbors.
Folks in Andover say they know what it's like not to have the money for the fire equipment the city needs. They got some help then and now they're paying it forward, all the way up the turnpike to Cassoday.
"That was shocking, I guess, yes. That was really neat, yeah, that they would do that," said Carl Grunder, a former Cassoday volunteer firefighter.
It's the talk of the town in little Cassoday, Kansas, a big deal for the fire department at a small price.
"It was unanimously passed to sell the fire truck for $1," said Andover City Councilman Clark Nelson, the city's liaison to its fire department.
A pumper truck that Cassoday had saved up $4,000 to buy will now cost just $1. The truck is decades old, but better than anything Cassoday has.
"It's going to replace our very outdated engine that we've been having nothing but problems with," said Ben Griffith, the chief at Butler County Fire District #4 in Cassoday.
"It's in great shape,"said Nelson about the pumper truck. "We've left a lot of equipment on there for them."
The fire department in Andover had a little fun announcing the city council's price change, texting the Cassoday chief the news.
It begins, "Good news and bad news." The bad news? Someone from Cassoday will have to come in person to pay for the truck. The good news? "You're going to need to bring a dollar with you, though. You can save the other $3,999.00."
Griffith thought it was a joke at first. But Andover says it's just a chance to pay it forward for a similar gift made back when that city was much smaller and didn't have much money.
"Sedgwick County, they gave us for $1 a very large fire truck that we've used for 20 years," said Nelson. "We're lucky things are going well in Andover and I think we should share that happiness and wealth in other jurisdictions."
Back in Cassoday, Grunder says this means a lot. "Cause we were pretty outdated on the equipment and not very much funds to buy them."
And many just want to say thank you.
"Thank you very much. You have no idea how much this will help us and we do greatly appreciate it," Griffith said.
He adds his volunteer department in Cassoday has the smallest budget in Butler County and, after last summer's problems with grass fires, it was hurting for money. The $4,000 the department had set aside for the truck was most of the department's budget for the year. Now, Griffith says, they can spend that money on other badly needed gear.