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New firetruck officially christened in historic ceremony
“Wet Down and Push In” ceremony dates back to 1800s
firetruck 2
Firefighters, kids and community members help push the new Engine 3 firetruck into Fire Station 3 during the Aug. 19 We Down ceremony. The ceremony’s tradition dates back to the 1800s. - photo by Jessica Taylor

Dawson County Fire Station 3 officially christened its new Engine 3 and retired the old firetruck in a ceremony dating back to the early days of fire service in the United States.

The old Engine 3, a firetruck built in 1998, retired its duties after firefighters at the station used its hose to wet down the new Pierce Saber firetruck Aug. 19 during a ceremonial Wet Down and Push In tradition.

“These rituals go back to the 1800s when we had horse drawn pumpers and were used throughout the fire service,” said Fire Chief Danny Thompson. “The process behind the wet down was once they returned from a call with the horses, they used the water to wet the horses down to cool them down.”

The tradition has carried on and evolved with the times, with firefighters using the hose from the retiring firetruck to commission the new one. After the new firetruck has been hosed down and dried, a blessing is said which is said to ward off evil spirits that could affect the performance of the firefighters and their duties as well as provide blessings of safety.

Dawson County Chaplin Charles Blackstock led the prayer officially blessing the truck, and afterwards firefighters, children and community members ceremoniously pushed the massive firetruck into its bay at the station.

“We hope this apparatus serves this station and community here in Kilough for another good 15-20 years,” Thompson said.

During Monday night’s ceremony, Dawson County Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond thanked the firefighters gathered at Station 3 for their hard work and dedication to the protection of Dawson County citizens.

“We couldn’t make it without you so we’re very proud of you and we’re very proud that we’re able to provide you with another piece of equipment to make your job – I won’t say easier because it’s an easy job – but having the right equipment makes things go a lot smoother,” Thurmond said.

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines agreed, saying “the ultimate goal is to give you the tools and equipment to hopefully make your jobs a little safer, also to protect our citizens and protect asset and lives, but the real thank you goes to the men and women that ride that new piece of equipment.”

“As I thought about what we are doing today, we’re celebrating bringing on a new piece of equipment, but that piece of equipment is just that. It’s made of steel and rubber and electrical components and hoses,” Gaines continued. “It doesn’t have a heart. It doesn’t make a choice whether it goes out every day to that next fight, but the men and women that ride that and control that, turning the wheels and pulling the hoses and doing the levers, y’all make a choice each and every day and that’s what I’m here to celebrate – the men and women that will ride on that truck.”

The new firetruck cost approximately $690,000 and came equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and tools that Thompson said is the “finest equipment anywhere around.”

Equipped on the truck is a thermal imaging camera that allows firefighters to see through smoke and see victims that might be down inside a house fire, a complete set of vehicle extrication tools, a large diameter hose that moves high volumes of water and a rapid attack monitor on the rear that will allow firefighters to hit a fire quicker and buy time for building searched and getting additional lines on the fire. It carries 1,000 gallons of water and has a $1,5000 gallon pump as well.

When comparing the new firetruck to its predecessor, Thompson said the difference is “night and day.”

“You’re talking about an apparatus that it replaced that was made in 1998. It was prime in 1998 but technology – we didn’t have thermal imaging cameras then, we didn’t have some of the nice extrication tools, we didn’t have large diameter hose back then,” Thompson said. “The fire service has evolved and we continue to push our personnel, we continue to push the industry in developing better equipment, nicer tools for our people to be able to do their jobs more effectively.”

After the new Engine 3 was christened, those gathered for the ceremony had the chance to meet with firefighters, ask questions and explore the new truck.

“It’s your truck,” Thompson said to the community. “We’re just honored to be able to drive it.”