Vashon Island Fire & Rescue dedicated its newest engine at a public event on Dec. 21. Engine No. 7, the seventh in the fleet, was in large part made possible by the passing of the 2017 district levy.
“We are truly and sincerely thankful for the community,” said Chief Charlie Krimmert of VIFR, during remarks he gave at the presentation.
Volunteers, responders, district personnel and their families came to witness the dedication, a ceremony which dates back to the 1800s when water was carried by horse-drawn carriages. It consists of three parts: the “wet down,” the blessing and the “push-in.”
During the wet-down, water is taken from the oldest engine by the newest recruit and poured into the newest engine by the oldest recruit. This year, Jim Westcott, who passed his final exam less than 24 hours prior to the dedication, and Mike Kirk, who has held multiple roles at VIFR over the past 53 years, including as interim chief, did the honors. With a cheer from the crowd, Kirk poured the water into No.7.
Father Tryphon, the VIFR Chaplin for over 16 years, blessed the engine and VIFR team with a horsehair brush and holy water. He then adorned the Maltese crest with holy oil to protect the engine, the community and all who serve.
The final step of the dedication was the “push-in,” in which VIFR personnel ceremoniously pushed the front end of the engine, while the driver backed into the fire station. In the days of carriages, the horses would be disengaged from the pump carriage and pushed into the fire station by hand.
Mitchell Lawson, a sophomore at Vashon High School and part of the Explorers program, helped push in the engine.
“My dad and my brother are both firefighters and I have a really strong passion for it,” Lawson said.
He added that he hopes one day he can become a firefighter himself.
“I think it’s really cool what they do,” Lawson said.
Rick Brown, a training specialist, told The Beachcomber more about the importance of the new engine.
“[The engine is] specifically for island response,” Brown said.
With a smaller wheelbase and more room for equipment, the engine will be more nimble for the island community and its unique geography, according to Brown. The goal is to have the same vehicle added to the fleet as older engines retire, he said.