San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 22nd, 2009
San Marcos Fire celebrates new engine with revived tradition

STAFF REPORT

The San Marcos Fire Department revived an old fire service tradition when firefighters welcomed a new fire apparatus by collectively pushing out the old engine by hand and pushing the new fire truck into Fire Station No. 2.

About two dozen firefighters, including on-duty, off duty and some in training, participated in the ceremony led by Fire Chief Les Stephens at the station at Holland and Academy Streets as they pushed in the new $470,000 fire engine that will serve the northwest area of San Marcos.

San Marcos firefighters celebrate the arrival of a new fire engine to serve San Marcos. PHOTO by DON ANDERS

Reading from a speech by Bobby Halton, editor of Fire Engineering Magazine and former Coppell, Texas fire chief, Stephens cited the late author Kurt Vonnegut who spoke eloquently about the symbolic importance of a fire truck.

“I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire truck,” Vonnegut said in a memorial service for firefighters after 9/11.

“Vonnegut knew what he was doing when he chose the fire truck to symbolize our sacred honor,” Stephens read from Halton’s remarks.

“The fire truck more than any other tool represents to every community that there are members of the community who are willing to sacrifice their own precious time, their own collected treasures, their own humanity in the protection of others’ lives…”

“It matters deeply that when the suffering, scared, and threatened hear our sirens and our air horns that their hearts rise in hope, for the picture they see is not of you or me but a six-ton medal of honor…a fire truck,” Stephens continued.

The San Marcos firefighters pushed the new truck into the bay of Fire Station 2 to begin a long life of service. The 2009 Smeal fire apparatus was built to fit into the station and is equipped with $50,000 in specialized equipment.

The 445 horsepower engine carries more than 2300 feet of fire hose, water and foam, swift water rescue gear, high angle rescue gear, “jaws of life,” emergency medical equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus, and other specialized equipment.

The Fire Department will retire to reserve status the old fire truck, a 1993 Sutphen engine that has served San Marcos for most of the two decades.

On Dec. 16, the San Marcos City Council approved on first reading an ordinance to rename the department from San Marcos Fire Rescue to San Marcos Fire Department, its traditional name. Founded in 1884, the Fire Department operated under that name until 2004 when it was rechristened under then-Fire Chief Todd Derkacz.

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