HERRIN — Fire Chief Shawn Priddy said the fire service is steeped in tradition. Thursday evening, Herrin firefighters and their guests had the chance to participate in one of those traditions when they “pushed in” a new firetruck.
“It’s a tradition from days of old when departments had steam engines pulled by horses,” Priddy said. “After a fire, the engine would be washed and made ready for the next fire, then members of the community would come and help firemen push the steam engine back into the station.”
Today, firefighters push new trucks into the station as a symbol of putting the new truck into service. City officials, neighboring departments and residents are invited to help with the ceremony.
Priddy spoke prior to the ceremony. He explained that they would wet the truck with a hose, symbolizing washing of the steam engines, and then push it into the station.
“Whoever is willing to brave the rain is welcome to go out and help push it in,” Priddy said.
Mayor Steve Frattini thanked firefighters for their work. He said the city has neglected setting aside money for equipment, but added that Priddy persuaded the council they could pay a little each month to purchase the new truck.
“Gentlemen, take good care of it. It may another 20 years before we get another one,” Frattini told the firefighters.
Then, everyone was given commemorative chamois cloths to dry the truck. They read, “Herrin Fire Department, Engine 1, Dedicated December 20, 2018.”
The truck was pushed in, then helpers of all ages worked at drying the truck. Besides Herrin firefighters, Mayor Frattini and Herrin City Commissioners, firefighters from Williamson County Fire Rescue, Carbondale and Johnston City, volunteers from the Red Cross and a retired firefighter from Desoto also participated.
The new firetruck is the first piece of new apparatus the City of Herrin has been able to purchase for 20 years. According to Priddy, the purchase was made possible thanks to a $100,000 donation from the Harrison-Bruce Foundation. The salesman also was able to find a brand new demo truck.
“That made it affordable,” Priddy said.
Total cost was $365,000 just for the truck. The department was able to repurpose some equipment for use on the truck.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have our first fully new truck in years,” Frattini said, adding that the truck was brand new from the factory. “We want to express our gratitude to the Harrison-Bruce Foundation for their participation. We are financing the rest.”
“Our first brand new truck in 20 years is a blessing,” Priddy said.