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Palos fire district hoses down new vehicles

Ted Dillenburg 62 Homer Glen holds his grandsLandSims 3 as he wipes downs Palos Fire ProtectiDistrict's new fire truck Saturday

Ted Dillenburg, 62, of Homer Glen, holds his grandson Landon Sims, 3, as he wipes downs the Palos Fire Protection District's new fire truck Saturday in Palos Park. | Nick Swedberg/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 1, 2014 7:26AM



Palos firefighters brought back a tradition Saturday dating to the days of horse-drawn engines to usher in two new trucks.

Members of the Palos Fire Protection District held a “wet-down” ceremony for the department’s new $810,000 ladder truck and $170,000 ambulance in Palos Park.

The new vehicles, which were bought after the approval of a property tax increase two years ago, bring much-needed equipment to the district, including the replacement for a fire truck that burned after an electrical short sparked a fire in November.

“This is your trunk. This is your ambulance,” said district President Kevin McCurrie, addressing the crowd watching the ceremony. “All of this equipment is yours.”

Voters in the district narrowly approved a property tax increase in 2012 to cover the costs of aging equipment and operating expenses. The district, which operates two fully-staffed fire stations and serves about 24,000 people, started collecting the additional funds in 2013.

Saturday’s ceremony consisted of ringing the district’s bell as a signal that a new truck is entering service.

A Palos firefighter used a hose, fed by one of the district’s other fire trucks, to spray both vehicles. People from the crowd then were invited to towel dry the vehicles and help push them into the department bays.

“Traditionally, they would hose down the new truck with the old truck,” Gericke said.

The Orland Fire Protection District had loaned a truck to Palos after its truck burned.

Fire departments originally used horses to pull fire wagons. Before they could be brought into the barn, horses were wet down to clean off fleas and dirt.

Palos district firefighters spent close to a year researching and selecting the specifications that fit the needs for their community, Palos Fire Chief Patrick Gericke. Picking a truck can be a long and drawn-out process, as advancements in firefighting come frequently.

“The technology is new every two or three years,” he said.

The district chose a black over red color scheme for the new vehicles, which is traditional for the Chicago area, Gericke said.



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