HIGH SPRINGS ‒ On March 14 the High Springs Fire Department invited residents of the High Spring community to join them for a traditional “Push-In Ceremony” to celebrate the purchase of two new fire trucks at the High Springs Fire Department, 18586 N.W. 238th Street, High Springs. The addition of a heavy rescue unit and a pumper unit represent a major investment protecting citizens in and around High Springs and provides advanced tools for firefighters for the next 20 years.

The Push-In Ceremony can be traced back to its roots in the 1800s, when a fire apparatus was horse-drawn, and firefighters would unhitch horses and push the apparatus back into the station after returning from a call. With the advent of motorized fire apparatus, the need to push apparatus into the station was no longer necessary, but the tradition lives on.

Some 100 people attended the High Springs Push-In Ceremony. High Springs Mayor Gloria James led the invocation and welcomed guests. Other speakers included City Manager Ashley Stathatos and Fire Chief Bruce Gillingham. Commissioner Byran Williams blessed the new trucks and firefighters following the ceremony.

The new equipment includes a Heavy Rescue 29 and a new Engine 29. The new Heavy Rescue 29, a 2023 E-One Cyclone custom chassis rescue, replaces Squad 29, a 2006 Kenworth commercial cab “light rescue” unit, and will respond to calls in and around High Springs, including technical rescues, vehicle accidents, fires, and medical emergencies. Heavy Rescue 29 greatly enhances the available resources as compared to Squad 29 in technical rescue capabilities, including rescues from sinkholes, roofs, trees, and major auto accidents involving large commercial vehicles or farm equipment.

The new Engine 29, a 2023 E-One Cyclone custom chassis pumper, replaces a 2012 Pierce/Kenworth commercial cab pumper. Engine 29 will respond to medical emergencies, vehicle accidents, and fires, as well as other types of emergencies.

While the tab for the two trucks totaled $1.4 million, both vehicles have a 15-to-20-year useful life and will enhance the ability of the fire department to cover a wide variety of emergencies. The replaced vehicles were reaching the end of their useful service life and had fewer of the advanced technical equipment developed in the last 20 years.

The two new fire trucks on display for the Push-In Ceremony offered a stark contrast to an apparatus situated in the back of the engine bay. As if standing vigil, a 1923 fire engine is a reminder of bygone days and is of historic interest as the first motorized vehicle purchased by the City of High Springs.

“Changing the addition from squad program, which is a light rescue technical style vehicle, to a heavy rescue style vehicle helps us enhance our capabilities to responding to semi accidents on the interstate to low- and high-angle calls in the county,” said Gillingham. “[It] allows us to broaden our level of service and helps our ALS [Advanced Live Saving] capability.”

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