Santa Paula Times

Santa Paula Fire Department personnel brought their fire truck to the First Christian Church and assisted the church by installing a new rope so the church bell will once again ring.

S.P. Fire Dept. responds to emergency of a spiritual nature at First Christian Church

January 12, 2007
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesContinuing its tradition of community service and mixing in an unusual training session, members of the Santa Paula Fire Department helped to quell an emergency of a more spiritual nature when they helped a local church restore the power to ring its bell.The historic First Christian Church, located at the corner of Railroad Avenue and 9th Street, found itself without clang power about a month ago due to a broken rope leading to the bell located in the tower, according to Don Olivier. It was the second bell that had been used at the church: the original bell was taken down in the late 1930s or early 1940s due to concerns that it was not stable and could fall, Olivier noted. “It was stored in a warehouse that used to be in the neighborhood here, but that burned down in the 1960s” and the bell was lost.About a decade later, while Olivier was having coffee one morning with the late Cal McNear, “He offered to donate the dinner bell from the old Boosey Ranch.” The Boosey Ranch bell rang at the First Christian Church for more than three decades until the frayed rope finally broke.And that’s when an unusual challenge was discovered: the tall bell tower has no access from below, and the new rope would have to be attached to the bell and then dropped down.Interim Pastor Dr. Phillip McKinley mentioned the issue to his grandson, Mathew McKinley, a firefighter stationed at Tikrit Air Force Base in Iraq. Mathew advised his grandfather to call the fire department and request help, namely a ladder engine and nimble SPFD personnel.
Although somewhat doubtful that his request would be fulfilled, several days after Pastor McKinley contacted the SPFD they responded, and easily attached the rope to the bell and dropped it down the tower shaft. “It was an easy job, a nice little training exercise” that also helped solve the church’s dilemma, said SPFD Chief Rick Araiza. “We used the engine with a 50-foot ladder, but we could have used a shorter one.”“It was great that the Santa Paula Fire Department helped us,” said Olivier. Pastor McKinley, who was busily photographing the repair effort, agreed: “I’m going to make an extra set of pictures and send them to my grandson. I’m just delighted about it and, as a reward, SPFD personnel are welcome to come to church and ring the bell!”The SPFD has a long tradition of community service, including providing Fire House Dinners to nonprofit organizations that bring top dollar at charity auctions. Recent acts of community service that mirror the help the SPFD provides include replacing the flagpole rope that broke at ARC Heritage Valley.The flag raising and lowering was a proud tradition for clients of ARC, which serves the developmentally disabled. The SPFD again came to the rescue and re-strung the 40-foot rope for the flagpole outside ARC’s South 10th Street center.