Gainesville Fire Rescue (GFR) celebrated its newest fire engine with an inaugural ladder push into the station on Tuesday morning at Station 9 in Butler Plaza.
Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Hillhouse said the department and city have worked hard to put the unit into service, a process that typically takes 18 months to complete.
“It takes a lot of work and coordination to place a unit in service,” Hillhouse said at the ceremony.
This newest unit, Ladder 9, took even longer because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the vehicle is a new model for GFR.
Hillhouse said GFR had to change the vehicle type in the computer automated dispatch system and coordinate with different stakeholders.
The fire truck is a 100-foot straight stick Quint with a dual rear axle that gives all of the unit’s aerial equipment a 100-foot reach, a particularly important tool as Gainesville continues to grow three dimensionally, Hillhouse said.
“It’s actually a very big occasion for us to place a new apparatus into service, and the housing ceremony is one where the crew and the public actually get to push the fire truck into the station,” Hillhouse said. “That’s a big deal for us.”
The housing ceremony dates back to the 1800s when fire trucks were still carriages drawn by horses. Without a reverse gear, the firefighters had to push the carriage into the station.