News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, November 14, 2019
Brooklin donates fire truck to storm-ravaged Bahama town
Neighboring towns pitch in

A fire truck for Marsh Harbour

K. Guinness, pictured, pitched the idea of donating the pumper truck to Marsh Harbour, The Bahamas. The truck was loaded up for delivery on Friday, November 8.

Photo courtesy of Ben Mendelowitz

by Anne Berleant

On a gloomy and windy Friday afternoon in a steady 40° rain, volunteer firefighters in Brooklin were intent on loading an old pumper truck named Huey onto a flatbed truck. Its destination was Marsh Harbour, Abaco Island, The Bahamas, devastated by Hurricane Dorian in September.

With a population of a little over 6,000, Marsh Harbour was at the center of the storm, and the volunteer fire department was left with 10 feet of standing water that ruined all fire trucks but one. (Coincidentally, the surviving truck had been purchased from the town of Blue Hill several years ago.)

“Marsh Harbour has all the issues associated with a big city [with little resources],” said K. Guinness, who lived one town over in Hope Town and volunteered as chief medical officer for its fire department.

A third-generation Peninsula summer resident, he wanted to help and had heard Brooklin had a pumper truck for sale that no one was biting at.

“I pitched it to them as a worthy cause,” he said, and the department responded.

“My first thought was, I was for it,” Brooklin Fire Chief Sam Friend said. “We were trying to sell it and were unable to get the money we wanted for the truck.”

Legally, the truck belonged to the town, so Friend worked with selectmen to start a fundraiser for the fire truck reserve account in lieu of selling it. Last week, Selectman Deborah Brewster sent a letter requesting donations and explaining the donation to town residents.

The pumper truck, named Huey, “turned out to be ideal for the Bahamas,” Guinness said. “It’s small, but capable, with an old Detroit 2-cycle diesel engine that is very easy to maintain.” The truck holds 1,000 gallons of water and pumps 1,500 gallons per minute.

Neighboring fire departments pitched in, with Penobscot and Sedgwick adding turnout gear, a hose and breathing apparatus, and Sullivan and Trenton also pitching in. It all left Brooklin November 8 and should be in Marsh Harbour any day now.

Guinness stressed the “insanely devastating” nature of Hurricane Dorian, the strongest hurricane to land in the Bahamas on record. “They need skilled workers to go down for a couple weeks,” he said “They need guys who want to take a two-week vacation.”

To volunteer, contact Guinness at

Donations have already started to arrive, although Friend said the town wasn’t banking on receiving the asking price of $20,000.

“What we get in, we get in,” Friend said, “We figure the truck’s going to go where it’s needed.”