SHIPSHEWANA — The pandemic forced the Shipshewana Fire Department to wait about a half a year longer than expected to receive its new tanker truck, but now that its here, department members say it was worth the extra wait.
The Shipshewana fire department unveiled the newest member of its fleet this week, a 4,000-gallon tanker, which was delivered five months later than first scheduled.
Tanker 26 took its place in a bay on the floor of the department’s station just north of town. Shipshewana uses two larger tankers fighting fires.
Ordered before the pandemic, the truck, like so many other things, was delayed due to supply issues. The pandemic forced Shipshewana firefighters to wait an extra five months for their new tanker to be completed and delivered.
The truck replaced an older tanker that was once part of the Shipshewana fleet but had to be removed from service after its water tank continued to fail despite repairs.
The new tanker is built on a Peterbilt chassis. It carries a special poly water tank wrapped in stainless steel skin. The truck was built in South Dakota by U.S.Tanker and cost $413,499. Various department fundraisers, including a 2019 auction, helped the department raise $314,000 it needed to help purchase the new tanker. Newbury Township contributed an additional $74,624.25 toward the cost, and Van Buren Township wrote the fire department a check for the remaining $24,874.75.
Shipshewana Fire Chief Chad Miller called the support his department continually receives from the townships and the Shipshewana community amazing.
“It always amazes me how quickly the people of this community step up to support us, and they always do so much more than expected,” Miller said.
Brandie Fitch, the Newbury Township trustee, said helping maintain a modern fire department is one of the most important roles a township trustee plays. Bruce Miller, the Van Buren Township trustee, said it’s important to help keep the fire department equipment up to date.