Honoring tradition, Grapevine firefighters push new truck into service

01/22/2014 10:25 PM

01/23/2014 8:54 AM

The Grapevine Fire Department on Wednesday introduced the newest member of its fleet — a million-dollar-plus aerial platform truck — by going old school with a “push-in” ceremony and first “bath.”

Dozens of firefighters and well-wishers turned out to symbolically back Truck 1 into its bay at Fire Station 1, a tradition that dates to the days of horse-drawn fire equipment.

And honoring another decades-old custom, civic leaders and firefighting fans of all ages used souvenir towels to wipe the truck dry after Fire Capt. John Sherwood hosed it down.

“It all just pays tribute to our history,” Deputy Fire Chief Darrell Brown said.

The latest fleet addition is a 2013 Pierce Aerial Platform that boasts a 100-foot platform with a bucket to rescue people. It can fight fires from ground level to six stories and higher.

The truck, which cost about $1.2 million, will be stationed at 601 Boyd Drive. It replaces a more than 10-year-old one that will go to auction.

Wednesday afternoon, Fire Chief Steve Bass started up the retired truck for nostalgia’s sake to find it had logged 57,376 road miles.

“It was in the shop a lot and was getting very expensive to maintain,” the chief said.

The new apparatus, with its state-of-the-art technology, “is a big thing for us,” Bass said.

Truck 1, which has been in use since December, almost missed its 4 p.m. official unveiling. About an hour earlier, it was called into service for a two-vehicle wreck several blocks away. But it arrived back shortly before the ceremony was scheduled to begin.

One of the firefighters on the truck, engineer/driver Matt Edwards, was joined at the ceremony by wife Katie and 3-year-old son Liam.

“It’ll serve our citizens well,” Edwards said proudly of Truck 1. “It’s a great toolbox for us.”

The push-in ceremony is a tradition that stems from the days when fire departments used hand-drawn and horse-drawn equipment. Since horses could not easily push the equipment back into the stations after fire calls, firefighters had to back the gear in.

Brown said that the hosing down and drying off practice recalled the time when a new fire horse would be given a bath “to welcome the new” and “retire the old.”

Bass said Wednesday’s event was held as a show of unity.

“This is a piece of fire apparatus for the community,” he told the crowd.

Among their supporters were Joceyln Goode and her daughters, 3-year-old Ebby and 22-month-old Lexie. Ebby enjoyed wiping the truck but was disappointed because her mother didn’t “wear a firefighter’s costume” like the one she saw on her iPad.

Friend Lisa Austin brought her sons, 3-year-old Jack and 2-year-old Liam.

“My kids love firetrucks,” she said. “Whenever they hear the sirens, they run out in the front yard to watch them go by.”

Liam was happy to grab a towel and join in the tradition.

“I wanted to give it a car wash,” he said.

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