New Engine 61 “pushing in”
Merrill Fire Department continues tradition
TINA L. SCOTT
On Thursday, July 22, the Merrill Fire Department’s (MFD) New Truck Committee went to Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton to make a final inspection of the Department’s new rescue pumper. Pierce Manufacturing manufactures custom fire and rescue apparatus right here in Wisconsin and is the largest fire apparatus company in the world. The new Engine 61 passed with flying colors, and the guys brought it home to Merrill.
After arriving at the Merrill Fire Station, firefighters, both current and retired, gathered to admire the new Engine and all of its features.
A time-honored tradition
After photos with the shiny new addition to the Department, all current and retired firefighters and MFD personnel were invited to perform the time-honored fire service tradition of pushing the truck into the firehouse for the very first time. “This was the procedure used by firefighters when they returned to the fire station with apparatus that was pulled by horses,” Merrill Fire Chief Josh Klug explained. “They needed to manually push the wagon back in the barn.” Now, it’s a way to link the past with the present and honor those who went before them by continuing the tradition when new equipment is brought into service at the Fire Department.
New features add efficiencies
As a rescue pumper, the new Engine 61 is more than just a fire engine, Klug said. It will be equipped with both firefighting equipment and emergency rescue equipment, such as the jaws of life, so it will go to car accidents and other emergencies, as well as respond to fire calls.
This one new machine will replace both the old fire engine 61 and rescue squad 64, which are being traded in as a part of the purchase arrangement.
The new combined unit will enable the Fire Department to operate a little leaner and more efficiently, Chief Klug said. This is the model for the future.
With room for extra air packs, water rescue equipment, storage compartments for extra equipment, room for a firefighter to change inside, and the pump located lower than on the old engine to make it easier for firefighters, every aspect of the unit is carefully designed for ease and efficiency of use. But the new Engine 61 also comes equipped with new technology and a few bells and whistles, like 360-degree cameras that enable operators to see what is going on all the way around the truck at all times, and a foto kite, which is basically a drone that is tethered to the truck, which stores in and deploys from out of the top of the truck, doesn’t require a designated operator, and provides both aerial pictures of the scene and utilizes infrared technology to identify hot spots at the scene. These are new tools that can be used to increase efficiencies and, ultimately, to save lives and property.
The new Engine 61 didn’t immediately go into service. All personnel needed to be trained on it first. But the new Engine 61 was ready for action in time for the Lincoln County Fair and made an appearance on the Merrill Festival Grounds as firefighters were on duty for various events in the Grand Stand this past weekend.
Thanks to the Bierman Family Foundation
“This purchase was completely funded by the Bierman Family Foundation,” Chief Klug said. “We’re very thankful to the Bierman Family Foundation for the wonderful gift.”
“We’re extremely, extremely appreciative of them, and they’ve been great to work with,” he said, noting he was also excited to see Rick Bliese in attendance at the pushing in. “We’re very excited … And we’re excited to have the truck serve the Merrill community for the next 25 years.”