Archived Article

‘ Wet Down’ held for new fi re truck

BY LILLIAN R . HANDLEMAN ReminderNews
South Windsor —  posted 12/02/2008
It was a ceremony befitting that of a coronation , as the South Windsor Fire Department welcomed its newest apparatus – the 2008 American LaFrance Tower 1 – with a traditional “ Wet Down” on Nov . 23 .
Despite a slight delay precipitated ironically by a nearby car fire , Tower 1 made its public appearance at the Ellington Road fire station headquarters . In a symbolic “ baptism” similar to that of a newly-commissioned ship , tall showers of water from Engine 2 and Engine 4 anointed Tower 1 , signaling the start of the engine’s service .
Captain John Hofmann detailed the protocol for the ceremony and introduced the speakers to follow , the first of which was state Sen . Gary LeBeau ( D-3 rd District ) , who congratulated the fire department and Fire Chief Phil Crombie on the accomplishment , saying that the department formed a pillar of the community . “ You have wonderful hearts , ” LeBeau said . “ The new rig is a beautiful piece of machinery , and it will keep the people of South Windsor safe . ”
Tower 1 marks the department’s third aerial device in 70 yearsand replaces Ladder 7 , a 1986 , 85-foot ladder truck that served the town for 22 years. Chris Hack , captain of station operations , acknowledged the replacement committee , which included himself , as well as Capt . John Hofmann , Lt . Jay Samsel , firefighter Paul Soderburg and firefighter Dan Connelly . “ Replacing this specialized piece of complicated apparatus was a necessary departure from what the department has seen before , ” said Hack , citing specs that included a 100-foot tall ladder requirement . “ It was our task to make it happen . ”
In addition to countless meetings , needs analyses and new tactics training , the committee created a 41-page procedure and tactics manual and organized 20-hour training classes . “ When I saw this truck pull into the fire department for the first time , I can’t explain the pride I felt , ” said Hack .
Mayor Cary Prague gave the department a Town Council coin to be placed inside Tower 1 as a symbol of good luck . He also presented a plaque from the South Windsor Town Council , commemorating the Wet Down . “ This is also in recognition of the firefighters who have come before you, of yourselvesand of those who will come after you, who are responsible for public safety in South Windsor , ” said Prague .
Crombie acknowledged the committee for their three-year dedication to the design specs and all that went into the acquisition of Tower 1 . “ I’m very proud of this moment , ” he said . “ I’d like to thank the more than 25 members of the fire department who put in all the effort to make this happen . ” Crombie unveiled a plaque with the names of the Tower committee , the mayor and the town manager , that will adorn the side of the new vehicle .
Town Manager Matthew Galligan thanked the department for their dedication to the town . “ I just want to say how proud I am of this department and this vehicle . You guys do a phenomenal job here , ” he said . “ You make my life easy . ”
Tower 1 is a 100-foot mid-mount aerial platform fire engine . From two nozzles mounted on the platform , this new engine with a price tag of nearly $ 900 , 000 has the capacity to pump 2 , 000 gallons of water per minute .
First organized in 1938 , the South Windsor Fire Department has more than 100 volunteer members working out of three stations .
At the conclusion of the ceremony , firefighter Andrew Hildebrand – whose father , Roger Hildebrand , is a 28-year fire fighter and 14-year media relations manager / photographer for the department – welcomed Marine Core infantry fighter Brain Warren , son of firefighter Doug Warren , back from his second deployment in Iraq .
In his parting thoughts , Hofmann concluded , “ Without firefighters , the new Tower would be nothing more than a truck with a ladder on it , and the fire department would be nothing more than a building with words on it . Firefighters are our most precious resource . ”
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