The delivery of Engine 3
The members of Rifle Camp Fire Company 3, West Paterson Fire Department held a traditional Housing Ceremony on August 4, 2010 for Engine 3 their new pumper. Built by Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, Wisconsin. Engine 3 is an Arrow XT, triple combination custom pumper; it is equipped with a single stage 2000 gallon per minute pump and 500 gallons of water. A full compliment of hose, and seven pre-connected attack lines, it is capable of seating for six firefighters. The fire department designed and a placed the order in April and the fire apparatus was ready for inspection at the factory in July of this year.
The housing event was planned around the evening the new fire would be delivered by Fire & Safety Services to the fire department. The night began around 6:30 pm when all of West Paterson’s first line fire apparatus met the new engine on the edge of town. They formed up in an impromptu parade and proceeded through town weaving their way though Woodland Park as they escorted Engine 3 to it’s new home on top of Garret Mountain at the Rifle Camp Road firehouse home of the “Ridge Runners”. Units participating in the delivery parade were Engine 1, Rescue 1, Engine 2, Truck 2 and the former Engine 3 a 2001 Pierce (That will be reassigned as Engine 4). Arriving at Company 3’s firehouse where a large crowd of residents and friends gathered, the new engine was parked outside on the apron. Welcoming speeches were given by Chief Paul Salomone Jr. who drove the fire engine. Captain Ernie Berthold touched on the need for the replacement of the fire companies well worn 1982 Hahn pumper, Mayor Pat Lepore wished the fire company the best with the new fire engine the town provided. Then Fire Chaplain James Pullara performed a firefighters blessing of Engine 3. After the brief ceremony was finished, all the members of the fire company gathered at the front of Engine 3, and as the crowd looked on, the apparatus was manually pushed into the firehouse for the very first time with a large round of applause. This tradition is as old as the fire service itself, but is really not that common here in New Jersey. It actually hearkens back to an era when the common way of celebrating the purchase of a new fire truck would consist of a parade, a ceremony with some rituals, and then a post-party. In the late 1800’s neighboring fire companies, members of the fire company purchasing the fire truck, and other local emergency personnel gathered and literally pushed the fire wagon into the firehouse. It is still commonplace in many areas of the country, largely Pennsylvania. Legend notes that most fire companies push the truck three times. Once for God, once for the country, and once for the company. At a time when fire engines were horse drawn equipment, they could not simply be backed into quarters. The firemen needed to push the carriage back into the firehouse because the horses were unable to do so. Then, members of the community would often help wash the fire truck, often referred to as a "wet down." All of this was to celebrate the fire company's new good fortune in being able to purchase a new fire engine. West Paterson, Rifle Camp Fire Company 3 was proud to resurrect these traditions from over 100 years ago as the accepted their new fire engine in classic style on a warm summer night in August. All who attended were very impressed. The fire company provided food and refreshments that were enjoyed by all who were on hand. The wonderful party at the fire station lasted into the early morning hours!
With the delivery of the new fire engine, it was decided it would reflect on tradition and service of the fire company. So, soon after the event gold leaf artist Eddie May arrived and began the process to add the stripes and scroll’s to the new engine, he is using the artwork and designs that appear on the 70 year old 1941 GMC the fire owns. This apparatus served as Engine 3 till 1956, and was finally retired in 1967. Ornate 22 karat gold leaf on a fire engine today is also not that common as decals are the norm. Nothing can replicate the quality and look of genuine gold leaf. As a special reflection on the past. The new engine will also receive not one, but two large murals on the rear doors of the truck. These will depict the 1941 GMC parked atop Garret Mountain with the New York City skyline in the background. The officers side with reflect “Tradition” as the truck will appear just as it looked in the 1940’s with a simple paint scheme and old lighting and equipment, with the Empire State Building and a few skyscrapers visible behind it. The driver’s side will be “Dedication” and show the restored antique with a very modern New York skyline visible behind the fire engine including the World Trade Towers; in 2000 the fire company performed a frame up $40,000 plus award winning restoration of the truck. When the little GMC was delivered back in 1941, America was thrust into World War II by the horrific events of December 7th. Sixty years later when the fire engine completed restoration and it was once again delivered back to the fire company, America and Engine 3 witnessed the tragic events on the morning of September 11th.
Transferring old to new is a big part of the fire service. Like many things in life, it is very important not to forget the past. Formed in 1922, Rifle Camp Fire Company 3 continues its service to the community. And now as it trains and prepares for the future with its new delivery, it will never forget the past and all that has happened to transform it into a modern, well trained and equipped volunteer organization.