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Salisbury Fire Department adds new ladder truck to fleet with blessing ceremony

SALISBURY — Salisbury firefighters gathered in front of Station 1 on Wednesday morning to continue a more than 100-year-old tradition and unveil a new ladder truck.

The department held a blessing ceremony for the recently added 2000 E1 truck to its fleet.

The 100-foot aerial truck, built by Ferrara Fire Apparatus of Louisiana, replaces a 95-foot ladder truck that had been in use for 18 years. The older truck will be used by the Spencer Fire Department.

Pastor Kenneth Lance of First Baptist Church of Salisbury blessed the truck, firefighters and the people they will respond to with a prayer. Afterward, the firefighters who will ride on the truck gathered to hose down the wheels, and all the firefighters pushed the truck into the station.

Fire Chief Bob Parnell explained the meaning behind the time-honored tradition of wetting the wheels of the truck and pushing it into the station. He said hosing down the wheels dates to the days of horse-drawn fire wagons. The wheels had to remain oiled and wet in order to stay swollen and tight. If the wheels dried out, they could potentially break.

“So every day the crew had to wet the wheels,” Parnell said.

The significance of the firefighters pushing the truck through the bay doors is to get the truck ready for response. Battalion Chief David Morris got behind the wheel to back the truck in while firefighters crowded around and gave it a light push backward.

The truck can pump 2,000 gallons of water per minute.

“This type of vehicle is required because of our response because of the heights of the buildings in our community. This device will take us to the roof of nearly every building in the city,” Parnell said.

The truck will allow firefighters to apply elevated water streams for fires and reach people even at low grades like ditches, he said.

The bucket at the top of the ladder can accommodate wheelchairs for rescue at higher levels as well as be used for technical rescues that may require firefighters to attach a stretcher basket to bring someone down, Parnell said.

The work team assigned to the truck is a confident and skilled crew. The truck’s motto is “Rise Above,” and an eagle logo is strategically placed above the bumper and ladder.

“They are going to heights, as they say, to rise above any situation that they may encounter. When someone in Salisbury calls 911, they’re in a bad situation generally. This crew here, they are going in and making that bad day better by rising above whatever challenges they face,” Parnell said.

Firefighters Don Clark, Lt. Kevin Burges, Battalion Chief David Morris, Battalion Chief Tim Hurlocker, Chief Parnell and office assistant Tammy File were responsible for organizing the blessing ceremony as well as carrying out its longstanding traditions.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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