By Abigail W. Adams
The Damariscotta Fire Department’s new Engine 3 roars through the waters at a wet-down ceremony Saturday, Dec. 6. A wet-down ceremony is a tradition in
fire departments preparing new fire apparatus for service. (Abigail Adams photo)
Bristol and Newcastle pumper trucks released the waters that Damariscotta Fire Department’s new Engine 3 roared through during a wet-down ceremony at the Damariscotta firehouse
Saturday, Dec. 6.
The wet-down ceremony has a long history in U.S. fire departments. The tradition anoints a newly commissioned fire apparatus by spraying it with water.
According to Hollywood Professional Firefighters Local 1375, of Florida, the tradition dates back to horse-drawn pumpers in the late 1800s. Horses, along with the
pumpers they pulled, would be washed down and backed into the firehouse before being placed in service.
Over a century later, the tradition is still intact, although the horse-drawn tankers have been replaced by engines and drivers. Damariscotta Fire Department
Assistant Chief Josh Pinkham drove Engine 3 through the waters that marked the beginning of its service.
“This was a tradition we wanted to restart in Lincoln County,” Damariscotta Fire Chief John Roberts said. “It’s a great way to bring the town together and bring the
community into the fire department.”
Members of the Bristol, Somerville, and Newcastle fire departments joined Damariscotta to welcome the new truck that is now ready for duty.
“We were glad to come over and support our closest mutual aid partner in the ceremony,” Newcastle Fire Chief Clayton Huntley said. “We’re proud to participate in
Children and their families were on hand to witness the event. Cousins Rebekah Ann Philbrick and Bianca Ann Dostie accompanied their parents from the Somerville Fire
Department to welcome fire Engine 3.
“I loved it,” Bianca said. “It looked really cool with its sirens on.”
“I liked how the water came out of the trucks,” Rebekah said. “(Engine 3) looked like it was getting a shower.”
“It’s a beautiful truck,” Somerville Fire Chief Mike Dostie said. Dostie recalled how the Damariscotta Fire Department helped Somerville by providing it with a 1970
Ford cab truck in 2002. The truck is currently Somerville’s Engine 1.
“We were down to nothing,” Dostie said. “They helped us tremendously. They’ve always supported us, so we’re here to support them.”
The wet-down ceremony for Engine 3 is the second ceremony to take place at the Damariscotta Fire Department in recent years. A similar event occurred in 2006 to
introduce Ladder 4 and Rescue 5 into the fire department’s fleet.
“It’s phenomenal that they brought back this tradition,” Bristol Fire Department Capt. Vernon Holmes said.
“We’re honored to have been invited and to participate,” Breck Holladay, the Bristol Fire Department’s public safety officer and chaplain, said. “We have a strong
bond and we’re in the trenches together. It’s great to participate in something positive like this.”
Damariscotta’s new Engine 3 was purchased in 2013 from Rosenbauer America, the world’s largest fire equipment manufacturer, for $276,000.
The truck was designed to replace the fire department’s old Engine 3 and Tanker 1, which were sold at auction later that day. It arrived at the fire department in
mid-November and is now fully operational and ready for duty.