City officials and community residents showed up at the Waxahachie Fire Department on Wednesday for an open house ceremony, welcoming two new pieces of fire apparatus that will soon be placed into service.

Among those in attendance were Mayor Joe Jenkins, Police Chief Chuck Edge, City Manager Paul Stevens, retired City Manager Bob Sokoll, City Councilman Joe Gallo and others.

“Without the strong support of these people who are here today, we wouldn’t have the first-class equipment we have to meet our needs,” Fire Chief David Hudgins said.

Assistant Fire Chief Randall Potter explained the significance of the booster truck (grass fire rig) and fire engine, both 2007 models and custom-made.

“The booster truck, which is replacing a ’92 Chevrolet 1-ton truck, is built to fight grass fires and will serve us well in the future,” Potter said. “This truck has a 300-gallon water tank, an 8-gallon class A foam system and is a more maneuverable from the one it’s replacing. It has a better ground clearance and carries more weight. It also has a bigger motor and hauls a bigger load.

“The 2007 Pierce Arrow XT Engine 1 truck seats six, whereas it usually seats four at a time,” Potter said. “The interior of the cab has been designed for more firefighter-friendly use and it also has more storage space for EMS equipment. This engine is an addition to the fleet and now we will have three engines and a ladder for structure fires beginning in November. We also have two booster trucks.

“The engines we have are not worn out; we just added another one to the fleet,” Potter said. “This engine will also make fighting fires a lot safer and efficient.”

Other features of Engine 1 include a 1,250 GPM single-stage pump, a 500-gallon water tank, a 20-gallon class A foam cell, a compressed air foam system and a Husky 12 foam pump.

Foam is relatively new to the fire service and serves as an essential element because it dissolves a fire very quickly, Potter said.

The design of the engine came from the ideas and comments of the apparatus committee, which includes pump engineers Jeff Marrs, Jon Wilson and Dwight Banks.

“We were responsible for the layout interior of both trucks, the Texas flag on the grill and the gold leaf trim on Engine 1,” Marrs said.

“The apparatus committee worked together to come up with ideas for the trucks and each one of them brought something to the table about what they wanted to see on them (the trucks),” Hudgins said. “They did an outstanding job in designing the truck.”

Potter definitely agreed with Hudgins.

“The apparatus committee did an excellent job with designing the truck,” Potter said. “They went to each of their shifts and surveyed their fellow co-workers in ways of getting ideas of designing the truck. They all worked together and most of the things they agreed upon and asked for, we were able to get. It was good team work.”

As a part of the ceremony, Hudgins explained the significance of the bell placed in front of Engine 1.

“It’s a tradition for a fire apparatus to have a bell on the front to memorialize a fallen firefighter,” Hudgins said. “Well, the bell on the front of Engine 1 is in memory of Lt. Paul Maxwell, which was purchased by his family.”

Maxwell’s widow, Hattie Maxwell joined his grandson, Lt. John Rodgers, in ringing the bell for the first time in his memory.

Keeping it traditional, senior company officers, Capt. Gary Myers and Lt. Jeff Alexander gave Engine 1 and the booster truck their first official baths, allowing everyone in attendance to participate in drying them off.

“The theme for this ceremony is based on the fact that these trucks belong to the citizens of Waxahachie and we wanted to give them a chance to see them,” Rodgers said, with Potter agreeing.

“These trucks do belong to the city and we take great pride in them,” Potter said. “We may be the caretakers but they belong to the city and the residents. Today was just an opportunity for them to come out and take a look at what they’ve got. It’s not every day that we buy something new and it may be five or six years down the road before we do this again. By then, we hope that people will come out again and help us celebrate.”

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