Firefighters hold housing ceremony for new Engine 1

Before pushing the new apparatus into the fire station, firefighters place their hands on the vehicle for a blessing by Chaplain Mark McAdams. (Photos by Kathy Canady)

Before pushing the new apparatus into the fire station, firefighters place their hands on the vehicle for a blessing by Chaplain Mark McAdams. (Photos by Kathy Canady)

Williamson County’s Emergency Services District #4 placed its new Engine 1 into service Tuesday following a traditional housing ceremony dating back to the 19th Century.

The ceremony involved carefully transferring water from the former fire Engine 1, washing the tires, blessing the apparatus and pushing it into the station.

Fire Chief Chancy Bizzell said it was important to him and fire department employees to follow the fire service tradition. He said it symbolizes the value that the truck holds for the community.

The engine was designed by WCESD No. 4 staff and built by Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, Wisconsin. The vehicle, which took six months to build, was purchased for $510,000 and carries an additional $55,000 worth of equipment. It can hold 1,000 gallons of water and has “pump and roll capability” that allows it to pump water while the truck is moving.

The new truck replaces a truck that has been in use since 2002. Chief Bizzell said the older truck will be used for firefighter training as well as a backup when the new truck requires maintenance or repairs. The reserve vehicle can also be used through call back of off-duty staff in the case of a large-scale emergency. Bizzell said the retired vehicle will be referred to as Engine 11.

“We see this addition to our fleet as a great improvement in our service delivery capabilities,” Bizzell said. “Prior to this, WCESD No. 4 had no reserve engine.”

The first step in Tuesday’s housing ceremony was to transfer the water from the retiring vehicle to the new one. In a media statement, it was described as respresenting “the seamless transition of ready water for use in fighting fires from the past to the present.”

Firefighters then washed down the tires of the new engine.

“During the hub and spoke wooden wheels era, the wheels of a fire truck were always washed down after it had been used to fight a fire in order to keep the wooden wheels from drying and cracking,” Bizzell stated.

The apparatus was blessed by former Fire Chief Mark McAdams, who currently serves as the department’s Chaplain. With each firefighter placing a hand on the vehicle, McAdams delivered a prayer, and the truck was then pushed into the fire station bay.

The first widely-used firefighting vehicles were horse drawn. When the horses were released from the apparatus, the firefighters then pushed the vehicle into the firehouse. The “push-in” joins the past to the present, fire officials said.

Housed on the new truck is equipment that was carried on the pumper truck including hose, nozzles, ladders, hand tools, self-contained breathing apparatus, improved scene lighting and hydraulic rescue tools. Additional equipment is on board that is used to stabilize vehicles in vehicle crashes, rescue air bags and ropes, and equipment used to remove patients from challenging terrains.

“With our limited staff, we have all of that equipment with us and on the scene in one apparatus,” said Bizzell.

The department sold its rescue truck last year and the proceeds of that sale went toward the purchase of the new vehicle.

WCESD No. 4 will host a community open house in the coming weeks. The public will be invited to tour the expanded fire station and see the new Engine.