On the afternoon of Friday, March 26, dozens of community members gathered at Dawson County Fire Station 2 to participate in the ceremonial wet down and push-in ceremony for the county’s new ladder truck.
According to Dawson County Fire Chief and EMA Director Danny Thompson, the wet down and push-in ceremony for a new fire truck is a tradition dating back hundreds of years to when firemen used to travel to fight fires in horse-drawn steam wagons.
“As tradition has it, the wet down ceremony goes back to the 1800s when the firefighters got back; they actually wet the horses down to cool them off from the fire,” Thompson said. “And then when they were done they pushed the steam wagons back into the barn, fed the horses and moved on.”
The firefighters from Fire Station 2 used the hose from their old fire engine to wet the new ladder truck and dried it with towels, and then all the emergency personnel and community members in attendance gathered around the front of the engine to push it into the bay, officially putting it in service.
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According to District 3 Commissioner Tim Satterfield, the ladder truck has been a very long time in coming and seeing it finally put into commission was a proud moment.
“I came here in 2005 and they were talking about a ladder truck back then, and here we are in 2021,” Satterfield said. “So it’s really great; it’s great for the county and the fire department and the citizens.”
In an address to the assembled citizens before the wet down ceremony, District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett said that having the ladder truck finally in operation is something she and her fellow commissioners have been working towards for a long time now.
“This ladder truck is a dream come true; that’s what a dream looks like and it’s there,” Fausett said. “Just know Dawson County is a safer place today because of that and we appreciate the part that everybody has played in this, so thank you.”
Dawson County Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said that the ladder truck, which was funded through SPLOST VI, is a great example of what the citizens and county government can accomplish together.
“We all work together, that’s what we do,” Thurmond said to the ceremony attendees. “We start with you the citizens empowering us to do the things that we need to do and us empowering the staff to do the things that they do, and then you have a day like today where it all comes together.”
Following the ceremony, the new truck was open for the children and other attendees from the community to climb into, explore and take photos in, and firefighters gave a demonstration of how the ladder on the new truck works.
According to Thompson, these kinds of events are welcome ways for firefighters to see the community face-to-face in a more laid-back environment.
“We love this interaction,” Thompson said. “It gives us the opportunity to visit with the community when we’re not at an emergency, so I love events like this.”
The new ladder truck will bring a host of new safety advantages to Dawson County, like the ability to fight larger fires, a better safety rating that should help to lower insurance rates and independence from surrounding counties that normally send their ladder trucks for harder-to-reach fires.
Dawson County Fire Marshal Jeff Bailey said that having the truck will help to better protect the community and the department’s firefighters.
“It gives us a lot of capabilities we didn’t have before like elevated hose streams and the ability to go up over top and put water into them which means we sometimes won’t have to put men inside dragging the hose,” Bailey said. “So it opens a lot of avenues and greatly increases all of our capabilities.”
According to Thompson, these increased capabilities will help him and his department to do their jobs better, which is something that he and other county officials are very grateful for.
“We’re very excited about it,” Thompson said. “It enables us to take better care of the community, so I sleep a little better at night.”