Denison Fire Rescue and members of the community held a ceremony welcoming Medic 63 to its new home at the Southside Fire Station on Thursday.
The ceremony saw members of the community join in pushing the new ambulance into the bays of the fire station for the first time.
“I think the nature of what our firefighters and EMTs do is sacred,” City Manager Jud Rex said. “The thoughts and feelings of that need to be captured and I think an event like this does just that.”
Denison Fire Chief Gregg Loyd said it is often tradition that new vehicles will be pushed into the station for the first time, but Rex noted this was the first time the city has done so for an ambulance.
The tradition dates back to the 19th Century when fire engines were little more than carts pulled by horses in the event of a fire. As such, it was easier to remove the horses from the cart and push it into place than to have them back it into the station, he said.
“Horses only have one speed, fast, and one direction, forward,” he joked.
Loyd described the ceremonial tradition as a community effort, noting it also brings back images of an entire community coming together to fight a fire using a bucket brigade.
The ceremony also included a wet down and wipe down of the new vehicle. Loyd said previously it would be courtesy for a neighboring department to come and spray down the equipment using their own water to christen the equipment, as sailors often do for a ship.
“Over the years, our purpose has expanded and this has been extended to EMS,” Loyd said.
The city originally planned to hold the ceremony in early March, but poor weather forced officials to reschedule. As such, the vehicle has already been in service for about a week, officials said.
The ambulance is the latest piece of fire equipment to be added to the department. The equipment was originally approved in the 2017-2018 budget, but it took time to assemble and build the vehicle, Rex said. The next piece of equipment that will be added to the department will be a new ladder truck, which is currently under construction, he added.
In total, Denison invested nearly $275,000 in the new vehicle, its equipment and supplies, Denison Assistant Fire Chief Mark Escamilla said. The new ambulance features more space in the back, and also comes equipped with new security features, including keypad-secured cabinets for supplies and medicine, he said.
On average, Escamilla estimated the new vehicle would see about 100,000 miles over the course of its lifetime.
“Really, what this does is get the public involved with what we do and how we spend their tax dollars,” Loyd said of Thursday’s event.