Not much is left of the former North Columbia Fire and Rescue department.
What remains is three older-model fire trucks that are for sale and three former North Columbia fire station properties that are being returned to the people who donated them.
"We have totally paid off our debt," said former North Columbia Chief Tom McFarland, referring to a debt of $311,000. "We've turned back quite a few of the buildings."
The department cleared the debt, which included $85,000 owed on the construction of a Columbia Road station, by selling the department's 18 equipped fire service vehicles.
"We're over $400,000," McFarland said of how much the department has made by selling its trucks. "We have one (pumper) truck left, one tanker left and one service truck left."
North Columbia Fire and Rescue, which had covered the northern communities of Columbia County, was left with the debt, vehicles and equipment Dec. 31, when Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue took over service for all of the unincorporated areas of the county.
McFarland said the department has sold or given away all but the three vehicles.
"We're just so thrilled that everything went," he said, adding that the market for used fire service equipment was better than he expected and the $311,000 debt was covered by Feb. 1, after six trucks sold for $315,000.
McFarland said there has been great interest in the last pumper truck, a 1977 model with a rebuilt pumper, from a fire department in south Georgia that needs a second truck that can pump at least 1,250 gallons per minute.
"We did rebuild the pump on it and it does have a 1,500-gallon-per-minute pump," McFarland said, adding last week that he expected the south Georgia department to purchase the truck soon. "That does make it very desirable."
By the time all the vehicles and equipment are sold, McFarland expects the department to have gained nearly $500,000, nearly $200,000 more than its debt.
"We're still looking at going to the public, our former 'owners,' and finding out what they want to do," McFarland said, referring to the funds the department receives beyond its debt.
"There's still some interest in a firemen's scholarship fund."
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