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April 9, 2018

Warrenton firefighters conduct Tower 1 “housing”

A dozen firefighters “pushed” the 40-ton vehicle into its new home Sunday afternoon.

The Warrenton Volunteer Fire Co. conducted a “housing ceremony” for Tower 1, its new Pierce ladder truck.

The volunteers sprayed water on the 47-foot long truck, then invited guests to join them in wiping dry the huge vehicle before it backed into the station at 167 W. Shirley Ave.

Former Fire Chief Dale Koglin, to whom the company dedicated the new truck, eased it into the bay as others “pushed.”

Fire Chief Jason Golden explained the ceremony:

A longstanding tradition in the fire service, a “wet-down” is a ritual, celebrated by many fire departments in the United States, in which firefighters commission a new fire apparatus by spraying it with water. The ritual dates back to the late 1800s, when horse-drawn pumpers were used throughout the nation’s fire service.

Horses that were commissioned for service would be washed along with the pumper at their newly assigned firehouse and backed into the firehouse bay. The firefighters would then fit the new horse with its harness, placing the company in service. After every run, firefighters had to hand push their pumpers back into the bay and ready themselves for the next alarm.

When new horses or pumpers were purchased neighboring firehouses, department chiefs and citizens from the surrounding community would attend the ceremony to celebrate the new powerful addition to their neighborhood firehouse. Local clergy came to bestow blessings upon the horse throwing holy water unto it for long life, strength, speed and good health. The blessing would serve to ward off any evil spirits or “gremlins” that could affect the firehouse’s newest addition.

The Warrenton volunteers took delivery of the new Tower 1 last month. It represents an investment of about $1.4 million.

The new tower truck replaces a 1996 model that the company sold to the Tappahannock-Essex Volunteer Fire Department for $250,000.

The Warrenton Town Council appropriated $450,000 to help purchase the new Tower 1, which Pierce Manufacturing Inc. built in Appleton, Wisconsin.

The new truck has 525-horsepower Detroit Diesel engine. Its work platform extends up to 100 feet.
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