SPANISH FORT – Firefighters and residents marked the 20th anniversary of the 2001 attacks that took the lives of more than 400 first responders with the dedication of a new fire truck in Spanish Fort on Saturday, Sept. 11.
The new 2021 pumper was put into service at the Spanish Fort Volunteer Fire Department station after being purchased at a cost of $537,947, Chief Roger Few said.
“It’s a beautiful truck and we’re proud to be able to put this forth for our guys,” Few said. “We thank our board members and the city for their contribution to keep us moving forward with equipment.”
Byron Hayles, Spanish Fort VFD board president, said the truck dedicated on the anniversary of the day when more than 300 New York firefighters died in the line of duty is a symbol of the dedication of all firefighters.
“Especially on a day like today, as we remember the sacrifices made by firefighters on Sept. 11,” Hayles said. “This fire truck and all the other fire trucks, the fire engines you see, every one you see going down the road from any department, that is a living, breathing, working memorial to every firefighter, regardless of where he served, who gave the ultimate sacrifice. They went before us and paved the way to make our lives a little bit better.”
He said the truck is also a tribute to the firefighters and community members of Spanish Fort.
“What these fire trucks represent is the standards that this fire department has kept over the years, over 60 years,” Hayles said. “The foundation of this department was laid by some very strong independent men. They were all volunteers and they set standards that we still live by today and these firefighters I expect them to live by today too.”
Hayles said the purchase of a truck costing more than $500,000 shows that the city and department have come a long way from his early years as a Spanish Fort volunteer firefighter.
“We had some trucks, we didn’t know if they’d crank when we came into the fire station,” he said. “No air conditioning. Sometimes we didn’t have the money to get the brakes renewed so it was an adventure going down hills sometimes.”
Few said the new truck is one of the safest models built. The apparatus includes an enclosed cab with built-in roll cage to protect the firefighters riding in the vehicle.
The new truck can carry 530 gallons of water and has a pumping capacity of 1,250 gallons a minute.
Department members dedicated the new truck with two old firefighting traditions. The new truck was washed by being hosed down with water from the vehicle it replaces, a 1999 model that will be placed in reserve status.
Following the “wet-down,” firefighters pushed the truck into its garage bay. Few said the ceremony of pushing in the vehicle dates back to the time of horse-drawn fire engines in the 19th century. At that time, firefighters pushed the engines back into the station after the horses were unhitched.
Mayor Mike McMillan said dedication was a fitting way to commemorate the anniversary and the growth of the department.
“On this solemn day, 9/11, we all recognize the importance of this dedication,” McMillan said. “This wet-down of this truck. What our firefighters do on a daily basis. We can’t thank you enough on behalf of the citizens of the city. All of you guys and ladies. Thank you so much for what you do. It’s a great day. It’s a great event.”