Top left, the truck has been named “Old Town” in reference to the area of Palestine in which it resides. Top right, the Palestine Fire Department had the new ladder truck proudly on display for residents and city administrators to view. Bottom, Fire Chief Shannon Davis addressing his men during the “Push-in Ceremony” Tuesday evening.

Out with the old, in with the new. The Palestine Fire Department hosted a “Push-in Ceremony” for its new ladder truck Tuesday.

City administrators, fire department personnel and community members joined together to celebrate the delivery of the newest edition to the fleet.

For the special ceremony, congratulatory words were spoken, a local minister blessed the truck and then the firemen put the truck in neutral and pushed the vehicle into the truck bay.

This traditional ceremony dates back the late 1800s when fire departments used hand-drawn pumpers and horse-drawn equipment. When they returned to the fire station after a call, the horses could not easily back the equipment into the station and firemen would have to “push-it” in. The event has become a widely practiced tradition for new fire department vehicles.

“I’m proud that our fire department has the equipment it needs to be able to take care of and provide safety for the community,” said Palestine Mayor Steve Presley. “The Tower 1 ladder truck, which we are replacing, had already been rebuilt once, which you do every 10 years. It’s way past its lifetime expectancy for a fire truck.”

The new $870K fire truck, financed over 10 years, is replacing 26-year-old “Tower 1” ladder-truck and Engine 1 at Station #1 on Avenue A in the Old Town area of Palestine, which were being traded-in to help with the purchase.

A refurbishment of the Tower 1 truck was estimated to cost more than $500,000 and would last only 10 years.

“Better to spend a bit more, and get a piece of apparatus that will last more than 20 years,” Fire Chief Shannon Davis told the Herald-Press.

For this purchase, a committee of firemen, consisting of PFD driver/engineers, two firefighters, and a captain, were put together to examine the needs and costs of replacing the 25-year-old Tower 1 truck.

“Everything we did on this truck, we had the community in mind,” said Jeff Cooper, a committee member. “With the growth that the city is experiencing and the numerous amounts of commercial businesses that we are beginning to bring in, that we probably need to have a ladder truck on scene at every fire call we have. We decided a quint apparatus, which combines a ladder and pumper truck into one vehicle, would best serve our needs. There are also certain features on this truck that will help us improve our ISO rating.”

The quint apparatus, built by Ohio-based Sutphen, carries 480 gallons of water – plus 20 gallons of firefighting foam – a 75-foot ladder, six gear compartments, and space to hold six firefighters in full gear. It also has a remote-control fire hose on the ladder as an added safety feature for the firemen.

For this truck, the city received a one year bumper-to-bumper, lifetime warranty on the frame, and six annual preventative maintenance and service checks.

“With this truck we can have a ladder at every fire,” Davis said. “And since it’s wheel base is more narrow than even Engine 1, it can turn and navigate city streets easier.”

The last fire truck purchased was Engine 3 in 2017.

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