By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Grafton – When the Grafton Fire Department is called to action, either to fight a blaze in their own town or assist in a call for mutual aid in another community, they respond with manpower and any vehicles and equipment that is needed. But there is another critical unit that responds to help the firefighters do their job – the Rehab Support Unit (commonly known as the Canteen Truck.)
Here the firefighters are served things such as cold bottled water, Gatorade, hot coffee or coco, sandwiches and homemade soup.
But as valuable as the canteen truck is, it is showing signs of wear and tear and thus needs to be replaced.
Andy Kjellberg, who served for 23 years with the Grafton Fire Department’s Station #3, which maintains the canteen truck, is helping to lead an initiative to raise funds to purchase a new truck.
The current 1981 Chevrolet Step van (14 foot) was donated in 2003 and outfitted for use as a canteen truck by the members of Station #3, according to Kjellberg. All the supplies, new as well as used equipment bought on the truck are paid for, 100 percent, by donations. It is staffed by the department’s secretary, wives of some of the firefighters and on occasion, off-duty firefighters.
“They volunteer their time to drive, staff and stock it,” Kjellberg said.
The truck goes to calls in Grafton as well as local communities including Auburn, Blackstone, Brookfield, Charlton, Douglas, Dudley, East Brookfield, Grafton, Holland, Leicester, Mendon, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, North Brookfield, Oxford, Paxton, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge, Warren, Webster and West Brookfield and occasionally Worcester (who also has its own canteen truck). It also goes to special events such as the Boston Marathon if requested.
“One of many wishes for a new or newer truck is the need for additional space (a longer vehicle – at least 16 feet) where firefighters can be better rehabilitated at a scene,” Kjellberg said.
“There is no money in the Grafton town budget for the Rehab Support Unit, so we are asking you to show your support and appreciation by donating whatever you can,” he added.
Thus far a number of residents as well as several local organizations have donated to the fundraising effort.
The fundraiser will continue until Thursday, May 31. Checks should be made payable to Grafton Firefighters Association – Rehab. Checks can be sent to or dropped off at Headquarters, Grafton Fire Department, 26 Upton St., Grafton, MA 01519.
For more information contact [email protected].
2018 Grafton Fire Department Rehab Support Unit – Wish List
Better refrigeration and food storage, including, a tall narrow freezer and narrow refrigerator
Stainless storage for food stuffs
Enough room to carry wool blankets, a few T and sweatshirts and socks for firefighters and victims
A small bathroom installed in the rear outside corner of the truck
Per an order from the Board of Health, three sinks (one hopefully big enough to wash a pan)
A stove with an oven to keep food warm, to feed those who come and go at different intervals
Room to keep the current griddle ow
Additional space at the rear of the truck
A truck with an automatic transmission
A bigger generator
Free services of an electrician, a plumber, a sheet metal worker, and a mechanic