Monday was the 22nd anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attacks in United States history and a harrowing day for emergency services. Memorials were held all over the country, but one in Kodiak served a dual purpose – to christen a new fire truck.
The truck was an integral part of the ceremony, which included a prayer from a chaplain as well as a speech from Bayside’s fire chief, Scott Ellis. He was on the East Coast during the 9/11 tragedy.
“I had gotten off shift in the morning, grabbed my young son – who’s now a career fireman in a city just outside of New York City – he was three at the time,” Ellis said. “(We) went back to the firehouse I was assigned to and we were all just watching this.”
Ellis said he wanted to christen the new fire truck on the anniversary as a way to honor the 343 emergency responders who died in the line of duty.
The new truck is a Dodge Ram modified by Rebel Brush Trucks, a company that specializes in fire response vehicles. It’s smaller than the large, red fire trucks people are used to seeing, but a bit bigger than a typical pickup truck you might see at a dealership. Ellis said that’s the point.
“This vehicle kind of fills a void – we’re going to be employing it as a fast attack vehicle, which basically means, appropriately, it will be the jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” he said. “But seriously, it is a platform that is excellent for the dicier areas of the road system.”
The truck holds an assortment of firefighting gear, has extra clearance for rough terrain, and holds about 450 gallons of water it can shoot out of a small pump.
Ellis said the new vehicle will help firefighters respond faster and more efficiently.
“We can handle things like car fires with it, we can handle things like dumpster fires with it,” he said. “We can get up small, narrow, difficult to traverse driveways to homes that are set way back where we might not be able to get a traditional pumper up there, so it can at least initiate some exterior fire attack while we work to get hose from a traditional pumper up to the scene.”
The ceremony ended with a couple of traditions to christen the new truck like hand pouring the first water that will serve the community.
Volunteers also pushed the truck into the hall by hand – a tradition that dates back to when fire response vehicles were pulled by horses.
The new truck is stationed at the Bayside Fire Hall near Mill Bay, where it can be dispatched at a moment’s notice.