BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Fire Department invited community members to stop by and check out their newest fire engine, as firefighters welcomed the truck to its new home by performing a ‘push-in ceremony.’
At the Public Safety Complex Thursday, Buckhannon career and volunteer firefighters pushed the brand-new Engine 11 from outside in the rain, where they ‘let Mother Nature do the washing,’ into the bay of the Buckhannon Fire Station. Capt. Joey Baxa said the department had planned to stage a ceremonial washing ceremony prior to putting the fire engine in service, but the cleaning had been taken care of by Thursday evening’s rain.
This ‘push-in ceremony’ dates back more than 100 years – specifically to the late 1800s when fire departments used trucks that were hand-drawn or horse-drawn vehicles. Following their use, the firefighters would clean the apparatus before pushing it back into the bay following a call – a tradition that now is reserved when welcoming a new truck into departments.
“We are here this evening to welcome our newest engine to the fleet,” Capt. Joey Baxa said to those gathered. “What this represents is a lot of hard work, and hard work is a shortcut to success, and that is what we are celebrating this evening. A lot of successes have taken place both within this fire station and at City Hall and all the way to the Sutphen Corporation, who provided us with a really nice apparatus.”
Baxa said the new Fire Engine 11 represents a half-million dollars worth of a promise firefighters make to the Buckhannon and Upshur County community every day.
“It does not provide the service, but it gets us there, and that is the amount of money we are putting forth to the service we provide our community,” Baxa said.
Per tradition, all the career and volunteer firefighters pushed the new apparatus into the station bay to put the fire engine into service. Following the push-in service, Buckhannon City officials and residents were given a tour of the engine to see it and its contents.
Buckhannon Fire Chief J.B. Kimble introduced the truck committee members and said they were the best to design the truck because they have to drive and operate it.
“The health of our organization really shows because our community is here to enjoy our truck with us,” Kimble said. “It also shows the health of our city to be able to put this truck in our building, and this truck will serve this community for more than 20 years. It is a big investment for our community that will protect it, and that is what we are here for.”
Members of the New Truck Committee included Capt. Linn Baxa, Capt. Brian Elmore, Firefighter First Class John Brugnoli, Firefighter First Class Tanner Smith, firefighter Steve Michaels and Lt. Brian Chidester.
Linn Baxa, who headed up the truck committee, said selecting the fire engine has been a long process that began in 2019.
“We sold two pieces – a rescue truck and another engine – and combined this into one apparatus,” Linn Baxa said. “The equipment alone on the truck represents approximately $120,000. That is not for us but is for the community. That is why we are here.”
Linn Baxa said Sutphen is based out of Columbus, Ohio, and the truck is American-made by union workers.
“The equipment came from various companies,” Linn Baxa said. “The world has evolved, so we have electric battery-operated tools. A lot of our other trucks have tools that are gas-operated but these now are battery-operated.”
The new fire engine has five seats, he added.
“We used to run six seats, but we opted to remove one seat to put a medical cab in the back because we run medical calls – first response,” Linn Baxa said. “The pump is a 1,500 gallon-per-minute and has a 1,000-gallon booster tank and a 30-gallon foam storage tank.”
He said the new apparatus – Engine 11 – is a ‘first out’ piece, adding it will respond in the ‘first due’ area which represents approximately 52-square miles.
“It will go to car wrecks, rescue calls, rope rescues, extractions, medical calls and all kinds of fires such as car fires, brush fires, structure fires. Basically, anything we get called out on in the city, this engine will be there staffed with at least two people, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” he said.
Linn Baxa said at the current time, the Buckhannon Fire Department has eight paid career firefighters and 14 volunteers.
“We are recruiting now for more members and trying to do things to bring in more help,” Lynn Baxa said. “We hope this investment will help us out.”
He said the apparatus will help because it is more efficient.
“Using this truck, everyone will have a role to play,” he said. “They can get off and grab what they need easily. We are all about time because seconds count. This truck is reliable and this truck holds equipment that before, we would have had to wait up to 10 minutes for it to arrive on scene. Helping people – that is what it is about.”
Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner said the community is thrilled to have Engine 11 finally in the bay and ready to work.
“It has been a long process getting it built; it was custom built specifically for Buckhannon,” Skinner said. “It almost mirrors Engine 1 and so it gives us the missing piece to our really great fleet of vehicles that will serve our community.”
Skinner said they appreciate the Sutphen Corporation and J.W. Jones, a City of Elkins Firefighter who is a sales representative with the Sutphen Corporation.
“We appreciate his being a local person we can turn to and that is important,” Skinner said.