On Tuesday, June 30, firefighters, their families, elected officials and members of the community gathered at Catoosa County Fire Station 9 in Fort Oglethorpe to celebrate a new fire engine with a “pushing in” ceremony.

Back in the old, old days, fire trucks were nothing more than a huge tub on wheels, pulled or carried by men. They had a hand-pump system for showering fires with water. The tub, or cistern, was filled by a bucket brigade — a bunch of men bringing water from another source to the fire truck.

Over time, fire trucks advanced to larger vehicles pulled by horses and eventually to true fire engines.

Before the days of engines, a fire truck had to be pushed into its parking space at whatever served as a fire station. That’s where the modern day “pushing in” ceremony to dedicate a new truck comes from. A group of firefighters literally pushes the new truck backwards into its bay at the station.

But before the pushing in of the new truck, there are speeches and prayers as there were by Station 9 Captain Rodney Johnson and Chaplain Neal Brown on June 30.

Then came a symbolic washing of Engine 9. Fire hoses were trained on the new truck and children were invited to help hose it down — with the help of the firefighters, of course.

Once the truck was completely soaked and glistening, everyone was invited to grab a small towel bearing the station’s logo and help dry it.

This joining together, says Catoosa County Fire Chief Randy Camp, is what is most significant about the entire ceremony.

“This fire truck doesn’t belong to us,” says Camp. “It belongs to the community. Their taxes paid for it and its purpose is to keep the community safe. We want people to feel like a part of what we’re doing.”

To add to the festivities, there was free food — burgers, chips, drinks — for all, and coloring books, crayons and kid-size fire helmets for the children.

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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