The former engine No. 42 served the town well for four decades and carried volunteers to thousands of emergency situations.
The trusty old engine that cost $21,000 in 1971 was and replaced with a new, 2012 model that cost a little more than $600,000. On Saturday, the shiny red engine was feted with a proper welcome by more than 200 people during an inaugural wet down ceremony at its home base, the . on Oxford Road.
The Rev. Dominic Valla of in Oxford sprayed the engine with holy water and blessed the vehicle before its maiden voyage at Saturday's four-hour ceremony. And First Selectman George Temple was on hand to celebrate the occasion and wish the department well with its new apparatus.
"I commended our many volunteers with the wonderful job they do in maintaining these vehicles," Temple said. "They are absolutely dedicated to volunteer firefighting, and we would be lost without them."
Fire Chief Scott Pelletier said a committee in Oxford sat down for about a year designing specifications for the new truck, which was built by renowned custom fire truck maker Pierce Manufacturing of Ohio. The committee has developed guidelines for what all new engines should look like.
For example, Pelletier said, thermal energy cameras will be the same place in all engines, all engines will carry the same amount of hose, the Speedy Dry will be in the same place, the irons will be in the same location.
"This way, no matter which company you come from, you will know right where to go to get the equipment," Pelletier said. "This makes it safer for everyone and easier to use."
A fire engine is a critical piece of apparatus for a fire company as it is the first truck to respond to house fires, fire alarm calls and general hazardous calls. It goes to a call carrying 1,000 gallons of water, Pelletier said. If more resources are needed, firefighters call for additional water on pumper trucks and/or reach ladders, he said.
The town has a capital replacement program for fire apparatus that was put on hiatus for a little while until recently. Pelletier said that hopefully that program will be back on line. The plan, he said, is to replace an engine at the Riverside Fire Co. in three years, and three years after that, replace a second engine at Center Fire Co. A new engine at Quaker Farms Fire Co. is expected to be purchased in nine years.
While that's the goal, the objective on Saturday was to have a good time celebrating a monumental occasion for the local fire department.
"We had well-wishers, some town residents, some members of neighboring fire departments who come for camaraderie," Pelletier said. "The goal was to have a good time and let the public come see the department and let them know what their money went toward."