LOCAL NEWS

Small Utah town gets first new fire truck after 40 years

Oct 25, 2022, 7:18 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2022, 10:45 am

TERRA, Utah — It’s the kind of place that wouldn’t need much ink if you were drawing a map. For Gerry Neil, though, this tiny dot of a town in southern Tooele County is home.

“We’re just a small community,” he said. “There are only about 30 families who live here, but we all know each other.”

Terra gave him the kind of peace he wasn’t sure existed after Vietnam. It’s also where he found his calling.

“It’s an inherent desire to help other people,” he said. “I don’t know how to put it any other way.”

Neil has been fire chief here for 43 years, ever since the start of the department he helped create.

“I found a need, so we just did it,” he said.

In all that time, he thought he had seen it all, until last month when he saw something new he never imagined he would see in Terra.

“Oh, I’m grateful. I can’t tell you how grateful I am,” Neil said.

He’s talking about Brush 81, a new truck that was converted into a fire truck and given to the department.

It is the first new truck the Terra Fire Department has ever owned.

After decades of hand-me-downs, it was almost too good to be true.

“Everything works good,” Neil said with a laugh.

Tooele County Fire Warden Dan Walton helped get the truck.

“It’s been a goal of mine ever since I got this job,” Walton said.

Under the Utah Cooperative Wildfire System, which passed a few years ago, cities and counties can offset wildfire costs to the state if those cities and counties help with wildfire preparedness and prevention efforts.

Because of the work being done in Tooele County, Walton was able to purchase this new truck and equip it with firefighting and medical gear for almost $100,000. 

“We didn’t purchase it. It was grant money. This was fully funded by Tooele County,” Walton said.

Since he knew Terra had a bunch of old trucks, he figured it was time to give the department something reliable. 

“We used to have a rule of when you leave the station, you left that truck running until you get back because if you turned it off, you don’t know if it’s going to start back up again,” Walton said with a laugh. “There has always been a concern with how reliable their vehicles were and these are some of the proudest and hardest working firefighters we have in the county, so we wanted to give back to them because they have given us so much.”

Even though Terra is remote and its boundaries are small, the department helps with calls over a large area. A lot of people visit the surrounding open land and mountains to off-road, explore, and even hunt. Sometimes, that leads to brush fires, crashes, and medical calls.

“Tooele County is pretty much Salt Lake’s playground. Everybody comes out here to camp and to recreate,” Walton said. “We also have a large military operation just down the road. That creates a lot of commuting traffic.”

When help is needed, Terra Fire Department volunteers respond.

One time, Neil even left a family weekend at Bear Lake because there was a big call where the Terra Fire Department was needed.

“A lot of people depend on us and I like that feeling,” Neil said. “I want them to know that there is somebody local that knows right where they’re at that can come and help them with whatever situation.”

It may be just a truck, but for those like Neil who understand the calling and sense of duty of firefighting, the glistening vehicle with a dependable starter is so much more.

“It’s to help so we can get the job done,” he said. “We will keep it as nice as we can for as long as we can.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(Iron County Search and Rescue/Facebook)...
Eliza Pace

Location, car found after officials seek public input on a video from a missing man

A car of a missing man was found after hundreds responded to help identify the location of a video of a remote location.
14 hours ago
Terrie Ladwig, 28, who was found in her Concord, California apartment dead on Dec. 2, 1994. (Concor...
Pat Reavy

Utah truck driver arrested in California cold case from 1994

A truck driver in Utah was arrested last week in connection with the Northern California cold case killing of a woman in 1994.
14 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Tamara Vaifanua

Financial tips to prepare for having kids

Having kids can be exciting, but it requires a lot of financial planning. Here are some smart money moves for new and expecting parents.
14 hours ago
Unsheltered individuals seek warmth in the makeshift warming tent provided by advocates during bitt...
Ashley Fredde

County opens warming center after Salt Lake homeless advocates build unsanctioned tent

Temperatures became dangerously low across the state, making people without housing particularly vulnerable.
14 hours ago
(File) Police Lights responding to a scene....
Eliza Pace

Two employees dead at Northrop Grumman Magna facility

Two employees are dead at the Northrop Grumman facility.
14 hours ago
(CNN)...
Eliza Pace

Hawaii family safe after boulder crashes through home

A woman is safe after a very close call with a boulder crashing through her home in Honolulu.
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Small Utah town gets first new fire truck after 40 years