Texas #4’s tower ladder truck will soon have a new home, halfway around the world.


Texas #4’s tower ladder truck will soon have a new home, halfway around the world.
The 1985 truck is to be shipped to Vietnam, following a refurbishing stop in Texas.
For buyer Thui Van Phan, a businessman in the plastics industry in Texas, it’s about fulfilling a promise to his homeland.
For Honesdale Fire Department’s Texas #4 Fire Co., it’s about closing a 17-year-old chapter with a hard working truck, and the knowledge that its lifesaving work isn’t finished.
“We’ve had it 17 years, it’s half my life,” said Keith Gunuskey, 34, Texas #4 captain. “There’s a lot of great memories on it.”
With their new tower ladder truck being built in South Dakota, estimated arrival date mid March, Texas #4 Fire Company had advertised its old truck for sale in fire-trader magazines.
Gunuskey says that’s when they received an email from Van Phan, all the way from Houston.
The successful plastics businessman is originally from Vietnam. “About 10 years ago, he was visiting his family in Vietnam and there was a massive fire in the city and well over 60 people perished in the fire. They didn’t have a fire department or any large ladders to get the victims out of the second and third story windows,” Gunuskey said of the tragedy.
“So, when he returned to the United States, he made a commitment to his family that he would begin taking the proceeds from his business and buying American fire apparatus and equipment, sending it to different parts of Vietnam
“One of the first trucks that they sent over was a 750-gallon mini-pumper. And when they began pumping, the entire village was there watching and they just erupted in cheers because they’d never seen anything like it,” Gunuskey added.
Believing their tower ladder truck to be the 11th piece of apparatus Van Phan has sent over, Gunuskey said the Texas based businessman is also sending firefighters along to train Vietnamese firefighters on the American apparatus.
“My father, Glen, who served in Vietnam and Stan Pratt, our chief, who also served in Vietnam, both volunteered to go if they needed someone to show how to use the apparatus. They would be willing to go. Honestly, that blew my mind. You know, just the thought of them serving over there the years they did, and to go over there to help the Vietnamese just shows that our country is very forgiving,” he said.
Gunuskey said they’re all excited about the truck’s destination, which is leaving Honesdale loaded up with retired equipment. Van Phan had asked if the department had any outdated equipment, to “please send it along, because the Vietnamese have nothing.”
They did better than that. They sent an email out to their fellow fire companies in Wayne and Pike counties. “We actually have gotten a great response. Pike County, Forest Volunteer Fire Co., is sending up a lot of equipment as well as other companies within the Honesdale Borough,” Gunuskey said.
“The equipment that we are sending no longer meets NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) standards, and therefore, we can not use it. There’s no NFPA in Vietnam, so the equipment that we’re sending is far superior than anything that they currently have.”
They’re glad to be able to send the equipment, Gunuskey said: “Life safety is important.”
With the truck to be loaded up on a flatbed for its trip to Texas, Gunuskey said, “It’s really a win/win situation for everyone: the fire company and the Honesdale Borough. The Vietnamese get a great truck at a good price. It’s probably going to cost them more to ship it (to Vietnam) than it cost to buy it.”
Texas #4’s new truck, which was ordered in November, comes with a $700,000 price tag. Gunuskey says they’ve raised a third of the cost through donations and fund drives, including chicken BBQ’s and bingo, with the remaining funds from a low interest loan.