GREENFIELD – "Truck two is now in service," was heard through the pagers at a ceremony at the Greenfield and District Volunteer Fire Department Jan. 2.
The announcement was made after a blessing ceremony of the fire department's newest truck and as members of the department and the public in attendance began ceremoniously pushing the truck into its spot in the fire hall.
The push-in ceremony was something that Fire Chief Moyal Conrad have been hoping to do for many years.
"It is something I wanted to do for our last truck in 2016, but it came during forest fire season, so we didn't have the time," he said. "I read about this and saw it online, and noticed it was a great way to uplift the spirits and boost the pride in the department and community."
He said the ceremony has roots from back in the late 1700s or early 1800s when they had horse-drawn fire apparatus or carts. After a call they had to unhook the cart and push their apparatus or wagon back into the hall.
This idea stuck, and snowballed, and became a way to put your truck into service.
Conrad, on admittedly short notice, called around to the office of MLA Kim Masland and Region of Queens Municipality mayor and councillors, and invited the general public to attend the ceremony. About 50 people answered the call.
Among those on hand were chaplain Charlie Greer who performed the blessing on the truck, all those that ride in it and for everyone that the truck will help during its lifetime.
Following this, Conrad climbed into the truck and called dispatch, who in turn made an announcement across the pagers that "truck two is now in service," then everyone pushed it in.
Among the pushers was former chief, Harry Nelson.
"It was moving for me to see that. It was beautiful," said an emotional Conrad, who added that Nelson was a good mentor for him. Conrad has been chief for the department for more than 10 years and a firefighter for 33.
The truck is the fifth in the fleet. The Freightliner has a 2,000 gallon water capacity with a 1,500 gallon per minute pump. It is a multipurpose truck with rescue gear in tow. It will be one of the first trucks out to answer calls.
The truck replaces an older pumper truck that was 23 years old. Conrad said that your first-out truck should be under 20 years old according to regulations.
They also have a 2016 tanker, a pumper truck, a rescue truck and a van for medical and firefighter transport.
The new truck was ordered two years ago and was originally scheduled for delivery in June, however, the manufacturer, MaxiMetal located in Quebec, said they had a hard time to get a chassis. It did not arrive until October and the truck would first drive into the Greenfield Hall in December.
Conrad and the firefighters spend the past four weeks prior to the ceremony, installing all the gear, training and preparing it for service.
He is happy with the truck and said they didn't go overboard with customizable options for it, but it does have cameras installed around the truck for safety, an extra light on the front, ladders and a remote-control water gun on top of it.
They could have added a lot more options, but did not go overboard, keeping costs in mind.
Speaking of costs. The total cost for the truck came to over $600,000.
The department, after three years of fundraising, was able to put down $200,000. Another $425,000 was borrowed from the Bank of Montreal to be paid off over the next 10 years. Although the price seems steep, Conrad said they should be good, thanks to some great community support.
"We do have a plan and I think we'll be fine," said Conrad. "We have a great auxiliary that helps with our fundraising, which we do very well at. It makes a big difference when you have a great community that comes to support all of our fundraisers."
Last year, with fundraising, and donations they collected more than $100,000. This includes the $27,500 that the department receives each year from the Region of Queens Municipality for their share of tax.
Some of the regular fundraisers that are held include a monthly breakfast, lunch/dinners once every two months and summer raffle draw. Last year, they raffled off a baby barn and realized more than $10,000 in profit.
All in all, Conrad is thankful for a new truck to add to their fleet and says that it has definitely boosted the morale of the firefighters.
"The last two years has been trying times for us and everyone," he said, eluding to the COVID-19 regulations and precautions. "For us, I think getting this truck will bring some pride back into the fire department and the community. Things are looking better." With that in mind, he is looking for more firefighters. He said it is not only his department, but the problem is across Canada.
"There are no new people coming into the fire service at all," he said, adding that it is a great way to serve your community.