Elected officials, department members, citizens and families braved frigid temperatures and winds Sunday afternoon to help welcome the Sedalia Fire Department’s new pumper truck into service. 

SFD hosted a ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday at SFD Central Station where attendees pushed the new pumper truck into the station and staff answered questions about it. 

In May 2018, the Sedalia City Council approved the purchase of a new pumper truck from Rosenbauer Minnesota LLC to replace a truck at Central Station built in 2003 that had reached its 15-year mark in front line service. The truck was inspected by the department in September and then it went to MaxFire Apparatus, the company SFD used to purchase the truck, for a 90-day demo run. The department then received the truck and conducted training on it before putting it into service at Sunday’s ceremony. 

According to Sedalia Fire Chief Greg Harrell, it is a tradition for fire departments to welcome a new pumper truck into service by spraying water on it from the old pumper’s water tank and then pushing the new one into the station. Harrell said this is a tradition that dates back to the 1800s when departments used apparatuses pulled by horses. He said when a firehouse would get a new pumper or horse, the citizens of the town would come and celebrate at the firehouse. 

“Local clergy came to bestow blessings upon the horse by throwing holy water onto it for a long life, strength, speed and good health,” Harrell explained. “The blessing would serve to ward off evil spirits or gremlins…Today fire departments continue to celebrate this tradition with the help of a driver in the seat and company’s transmission reversed. After the wet down and blessing, the company would slowly roll it backwards into the bay while firefighters assisted by pushing up front.”

Due to the cold temperatures Sunday, the department decided to instead splash the side with a bucket of water from the booster tank of the old pumper and then push it into the station. 

During Harrell’s speech, he spoke about the department’s rich history. 

“It’s important that we honor the history and traditions of the fire service,” Harrell said. “We’ve been blessed in the Sedalia Fire Department to be an old department. One hundred and thirty-two years as a fully paid department, one of the six oldest departments in the state of Missouri from what research we’ve been able to find.” 

Harrell also spoke about the recent structure fires the city has seen in the past few weeks and how proud he is of the work the firefighters have been doing. 

“We’ve had a string of busy calls the last eight weeks. You guys have all handled it admirably. I’ve been very proud of the work we’ve done…” he said. “We have not had a single injury or fatality and we’ve displaced 13 families in the last seven weeks. I credit a lot of that to what you all are doing and I appreciate it...”

“(Deputy Chief Matt) Irwin and I are not the ones out there on the lines doing the work, that’s you guys that are out there sweating and taking a beating out there on the lines and apparatus. The greatest honor I’ve ever had in my entire life was the day I put this chief’s badge on because I represent you people and what I consider probably the best department in the state of Missouri.”

After Harrell’s speech, attendees went outside with firefighters and the new truck was splashed with water. Firefighters and attendees then assisted in pushing the engine back into the fire station. Several families were in attendance and children got to take turns sitting in the new truck. Firefighters stayed after the ceremony to answer questions. 

The new truck will now serve as engine one at SFD Central Station with the previous engine one at being put into reserve. The new truck has several new and improved features, partly thanks to the department allowing the truck to be used as a demo for MaxFire Apparatus. 

The new truck has shorter wheelbases which improve the truck’s maneuverability on tight streets and corners, more room and compartment space to store equipment, and is safer. The truck also features a wireless monitor that allows pump operators to use the pump using a wireless box up to 150 feet away from the truck.

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