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New fire truck to be 'housed' on Saturday

Published May 13. 2010 05:00PM

Volunteer firefighters help us celebrate life on a daily basis. They donate their time to educating our youth, they save us from the daily perils of life, and they often provide entertainment for us in the form of block parties and parades.

Now, it's our turn to celebrate for them.

If you were living in the mid-1800s and your house caught on fire, a horse-drawn engine with a hand water pump would have come to your rescue. Fortunately, by the 1900s the first fire engines were invented and put into use, and this is what we see now when fire strikes.

On Saturday the Brockton Fire Company will host a parade to celebrate the purchase of a new 2010 KME fire truck. The parade will be followed by a "housing" ceremony.

At this point, you might be wondering what a housing ceremony is or, if you've already seen one, you might be questioning why fire companies do this or where the tradition stems from.

According to fire company histories, a housing ceremony and this can vary from one fire company to another is the traditional way of celebrating the purchase of a new fire truck. It often consists of a parade, a ceremony with some rituals, and then a post-party.

Neighboring fire companies, members of the fire company purchasing the fire truck, and other local emergency personnel gather and literally push the fire truck into the fire house. Legend notes that most fire companies push the truck three times: once for God, once for the country, and once for the company.

The tradition stems from the 1830s when fire companies were still using horse drawn equipment that could not simply be backed into the fire house. The firemen needed to push the carriage back into the fire house for storage purposes because the horses were unable to do so.

In these early days of the tradition, members of the community would often help wash the fire truck, often referred to as a "wet down." All of this was to celebrate the fire company's new good fortune in being able to purchase a new fire engine.

The Brockton Fire Company, which began in 1912, started with a hand-drawn pumper. Eventually the fire company housed a 1953 Mack and this was used until 1981, at which time, a 1973 Mack was purchased.

It was still being used in 2009 until the purchase of the 2010 KME fire truck, which was made possible by the generous donations of the Brockton Ladies Auxiliary, the residents of Brockton, and numerous federal and state grants.

Emergency personnel vehicles interested in participating in the parade on Saturday should arrive at 11 a.m. for registration.

The parade will begin at 1 p.m., being routed through Schuylkill Township, and will end at the Brockton fire company with the housing ceremony.

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