'Tradition is big': Ocean City-Wright firefighters push new truck into Shalimar station
SHALIMAR — Several people joined the Ocean City-Wright Fire Control District Thursday to wash its newest firetruck and push the truck into Station 2.
The ceremony for new apparatuses is a long-standing tradition for the fire district. Fire Chief Mark Bundrick said it began long before he took over as chief last year, and is something the fire district will likely continue for many years to come.
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“It’s a big deal to us. Tradition is big,” Bundrick said. “There’s a saying that if you stick too hard in tradition you’ll be left in the past, but some traditions just need to live on.”
The Shalimar community had a big presence at the ceremony. Numerous retired firefighters also joined in, and elected officials including Shalimar Mayor Mark Franks and Mary Esther Mayor Margaret McLemore were on hand to celebrate the new truck.
“Community is something that is incredibly important to this fire district,” Bundrick said. “This takes you back, and you can see it brought our community out. It brought our elected officials out. It brought our firefighters together again just to celebrate the fire service one more time.”
Truck 2 is replacing a nearly 13-year-old engine at the Shalimar station, which Bundrick said will help improve safety for firefighters. The department usually replaces apparatuses after about 10 years to keep up with current safety standards and technology.
“One of the big things is it’s wrapped in cameras now,” Bundrick said. “You see how big it is; getting in tight spaces and running calls and things, you can monitor the traffic and things around you a bit better.”
The truck was custom-built for the needs of Ocean City-Wright. Bundrick said it also has a better nozzle at the top of its 75 foot ladder, as well as improved lighting and radio systems.
As a part of the ceremony, firefighters extended a hose from the retiring engine and began spraying down the new truck. Bundrick said it symbolizes “christening” the new truck “for its journey.”
The hose was then passed to many adults and children who helped wash the truck — similar to how firefighters would take care of their horses that pulled steam powered pumpers many years ago after returning from a call.
"The horses that took the steamer there would run hard. So when you get back, in order to get them ready for the next call, they take care of them," Bundrick said. “They wash them, wet them down, brush them, just like firefighters take care of the engine when they get done at the end of a shift."
Once finished, everyone was handed a towel and they began wiping down the new truck. A local pastor also led the group in a prayer for the truck and the firefighters who will ride in it before they pushed the engine into the station.
“Pushing it in symbolizes how at the end of the call they had to get the steamer and manually push it in because that’s what they drug the horses out to,” Bundrick said. “So it’s like pushing it back and getting it ready for the next call.”
Truck 2 is now officially in service and awaiting it's first call. Bundrick said the truck is a great new asset for the fire district and its firefighters.
“Everybody does their job and does it well,” Bundrick said. “I take absolutely every moment I can get to brag on my firefighters in Ocean City because they're bar none the best on the planet, so we want to make sure we’ve got them something good to ride in.”