The St Augustine Fire Department invites the public to attend when they will be introducing the newest member of its’ fleet by going old school with the revival of the traditional “Push-In” Ceremony and a “Wet-Down”. Many modern fire departments have gotten away from some longstanding and meaningful traditions that have been a part of fire service for generations. By bringing back the push-in ceremony, the St. Augustine Fire Department will embrace this traditional way of celebrating the purchase of a new fire truck.
The tradition dates to the 1830s when fire companies used horse drawn equipment that was quite difficult to back into the fire house requiring firefighters to push the carriage into the fire house. The ceremony mimics a daily routine for those firefighters by literally pushing the new fire truck into the fire house. In these early days of the tradition, members of the fire department would perform a “wet-down,” a ritual celebrated by many fire departments in the United States. When new horses or pumpers were purchased, neighboring firehouses, department chiefs, and citizens from the surrounding community would attend the ceremony to celebrate the new addition to their neighborhood firehouse. Local clergy came to bestow blessings upon the horse throwing holy water unto it for long life, strength, speed and good health. The blessing would serve to ward off any evil spirits or “gremlins” that could affect the firehouse’s newest addition.
At Wednesday’s ceremony, the new truck (commonly referred to as a brush truck, specifically built and equipped to work fires in off-road conditions) will be wet-down and blessed, then firefighters will push the truck into the fire house with the help of a driver in the seat and the truck placed in reverse to aid a little assistance. Following the push-in ceremony, the new truck will be immediately ready for service.
For more information, contact the St. Augustine Fire Department at 904-825-1098.