About 25 residents came out to help wet down and wipe dry two new trucks that joined the Copperas Cove Fire Department fleet Dec. 20.
Mayor John Hull reminisced about the past in his opening remarks at the event.
“We are blessed to have two more pieces of equipment to protect our citizens. I can remember when we had only one truck and we had to pull it to the fires,” Hull said.
The two new trucks join a fleet of three others. Both are equipped with 250-gallon water tanks and 20-gallon foam tanks. Each truck cost $159,206 for a total of $319,912. They are replacing one inoperable truck and another purchased in 2005, said Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young.
“The new vehicles are professionally built and equipped and much more advanced than our two older vehicles,” Young said. “We will be able to provide more services in the wildland environment with better tools and methods to fight fires with a more modernized fleet.”
The trucks will be used mainly to fight brush fires. Young said the department responds to more than 50 brush fires annually and as many as 160 during some years due to the dry climate.
The ritualistic “wet down” ceremony stems from the 1700s when water pumps were operated by hand and water was carried in buckets to fight fires, said Fire Chief Burney Baskett.
“It goes back to the bucket brigade when everything was operated by manpower and water was precious and could not be wasted,” Baskett said. “They would pour water from the truck being replaced into the next truck being used.”
The tradition is to wet down the new truck with water and have residents wipe it down and push it back into the garage.
Silas Wilson, 5, of Williams Ledger Elementary School, was helped spray down the first vehicle. “He’s wanted to be a fireman since he was 2. So, anytime we have a chance to do something with fire engines, we do,” said Paul Wilson, Silas’ father. Silas was the first to ride in the new truck as it was pushed back into the station.