Heckert donates money to fire departments
PARKERSBURG — A local businessman donated $19,000 to the fire departments that responded to the Intercontinental Export Import plastics fire last October.
R.C. “Heck” Heckert, owner of the Yellow Taxi Service and Ambulette Medical Transport, appeared before the regular meeting of the Wood County Fire Board this week at the Mineral Wells Fire Station to make a $500 donation to each of the 38 departments, from West Virginia and Ohio, who responded to the fire that began Oct. 21.
The fire engulfed the IEI warehouse on Camden Avenue, the former Ames shovel plant, and burned for more than a week, sending a thick black plume of smoke hundreds of feet into the air that was seen as far north as Cambridge, Ohio.
Heckert’s businesses, located at the Broadway Industrial Park, were next to IEI and were in danger from the blaze.
”The fire departments came and kept putting water on our building,” he said. ”It was the most incredible thing. They helped save our building, our offices and our building.”
Although their property did sustain some damage, it could have been a lot worse, Heckert said.
Because of the departments’ efforts, they were able to continue to provide taxi service, non-emergency medical transports and other services in a 100-mile radius, Heckert said.
Some of the departments came from 50-60 miles away to help local firefighters battle the blaze, Heckert said.
”We didn’t know how to really say ‘thank you’ to all of these departments,” he said. ”We had to do something to pay our respects and thanks to them for this.”
Heckert said a $19,000 contribution was a significant amount for their business to make, but it was his belief, his wife’s, his family’s and the employees this was what they needed to do.
”There was no argument,” he said.
Heckert hopes the donation will spur others to contribute to their local fire departments.
Many of the firefighters have families and when they go out on a call, they don’t know if they will be away for a couple hours or 10 days or so the entire family makes a sacrifice when firefighters respond to a call, he said.
”This has been one of the most intense disasters in my lifetime,” Heckert said.
They had to move their operations to a temporary location, have building repairs done, remodeling work done and move back. They were uprooted for five months.
It will be another 3-4 months for them to be fully back in operation, he said.
Heckert has been in business for over 50 years and the area continues to be good to him, he said.
”It is a great place to live,” Heckert said. ”We wanted to do something where the firefighters really knew how much we appreciated them. From the bottom of my heart, thank you,” he said.
The money will help fire departments fund their own projects and do training.
Kim Marshall, secretary of the Wood County Fire Fighters Association, said he was appreciative of the contribution. Heckert said he would donate and kept his word.
“He made a pledge to help those who helped him,” Marshall said.
The contribution to the West Virginia departments will be used for the burn house instructional facility adjacent to the Parkersburg Fire Department Station 6 on Camden Avenue, Marshall said.
“Five-thousand dollars will do more good there,” he said.
(City Editor Jess Mancini contributed to this story.)
Departments that responded to the IEI fire:
Wood County Fire Fighters Association
* Washington Bottom VFD
* Lubeck VFD
* Blennerhassett VFD
* Mineral Wells VFD
* Waverly VFD
* Eastwood VFD
* Pond Creek VFD
* Vienna VFD
* Williamstown VFD
* Wood County Airport
* Deerwalk VFD
* Parkersburg Fire Dept
* Elizabeth VFD
* Ellenboro VFD
* Cairo VFD
* Silverton VFD
* Ripley VFD
* Greenword VFD
* St. Marys VFD
* Belmont VFD
* Smithville VFD
* Ravenswood VFD
* Harrisville VFD
* Pennsboro VFD
Washington County Ohio Fire Departments:
* Marietta Fire Department
* Little Hocking VFD
* Belpre VFD
* Warren VFD
* Reno VFD
* Fearing VFD
* Oak Grove VFD
* Beverly VFD
* Wesley Township VFD
* Little Muskingum VFD
* Salem VFD
* Newport VFD
* Barlow VFD
* L-A Joint VFD