A steady flow of visitors arrived at the White Hills Fire Station on Saturday to check out the city’s newest fire trucks.
People at the Shelton Fire Department’s “wet-down” were able to look at two new aerial ladder trucks — Ladder 51 from White Hills Fire Company, and Ladder 47 from Pine Rock Park Fire Company.
A large American flag hung from the ladders on the two trucks, parked in front of the fire station on School Street.
Paul Hays, a White Hills volunteer firefighter for 27 years, said the company’s new truck “gives us more capability.”
Michael Maglione, city public safety director, agreed. “These can bring lots of water to an incident as well as helping our aerial abilities,” said Maglione, who previously was fire chief in both Bridgeport and Shelton.
The new vehicles are known as quints because they serve as both engine trucks (with water tanks and pumps) and ladder trucks.
Al Scarpulla traveled from northern New Jersey with his three sons, ages 9 to 15, to look at Shelton’s new fire vehicles. “We like coming to wet-downs,” Scarpulla said.
Interaction with firefighters
Many volunteer fire departments hold wet-downs to commission new fire vehicles, which are ceremonially sprayed with water from other fire trucks.
Visitors were able to closely inspect the trucks and related equipment, and to interact with local volunteer firefighters. They also could partake in food — from hot dogs and hamburgers to French fries — and play horseshoes. T-shirts and hats commemorating the two new trucks were available for purchase.
The event was viewed as a recruitment opportunity, with local residents learning about the work done by Shelton’s volunteer firefighters.
The visitors included Shelton residents and volunteer fire personnel from other Connecticut towns, as well as fire truck aficionados such as the Scarpullas.
Fran Jones, Shelton fire chief, said the two new vehicles give all four of Shelton’s volunteer fire companies aerial apparatus.
“These new trucks are multi-functional,” he said, noting they can carry 500 gallons of water.
Aerial ladder trucks help fire personnel get to elevated parts of structures — such as the upper floors of buildings — and to apply massive streams of water on fires from above, according to Jones.
He said they are particularly important when battling fires such as the massive downtown blaze in January that destroyed an apartment and retail building.
The two new trucks cost about $800,000 each and were custom-made by KME/Kovatch in Pennsylvania.
The process took a few years, with local fire officials working with the manufacturer on the exact specifications.
The trucks were purchased by the city of Shelton after being approved by voters in a 2012 referendum.
Soon, Jones said, Echo Hose Hook & Ladder will get a new rescue truck and Huntington Fire Company will receive a new squad vehicle (a combined rescue truck and pumper).
Fran Wheeler, a captain and 42-year veteran with White Hills, said the new aerial ladder trucks will better serve firefighters than having to use hand ladders. “I think they’re needed with the larger homes coming into the area,” Wheeler said.
Michael Kollar, a 28-year veteran volunteer with Pine Rock Park, said he’s happy all four Shelton companies now will have aerial ladder capabilities.
Kollar was having a good time at the wet-down. “I’ve been to a few of these, and I love them,” he said.
Brian McCue was looking at Ladder 51 with his son Dan. McCue and his three sons — there’s also Kevin and Tim — are all Shelton volunteer firefighters. “It’s in my blood,” said McCue, who first volunteered as a firefighter with the Noroton Fire Department in Darien, where he grew up.
Judson Crawford was one of the Shelton residents who dropped by to view the new trucks. He expressed appreciation for the work of the city’s volunteer firefighters.
“The city of Shelton is so grateful to have these men and women when the alarms go off,” Crawford said.