Lucas FR Engine 861 was Welcomed with Great Fanfare
Apr. 18, 2019 – With great fanfare and a ceremony saturated with tradition, Lucas Fire Rescue welcomed the newest addition to their fleet, Engine 861. The new engine smell wafted through the station located at 165 Country Club Road as community members, elected officials, city of Lucas staff, many firefighters from neighboring agencies, members of Wylie dispatch, and retired Lucas firefighters were hosted by current Lucas firefighters in a manner similar to one showing off a newborn baby.
In a previous interview, Lucas FR Chief Ted Stephens described Engine 861, “It is a beauty! It has a Cummins 450 hp engine and an Allison 5th generation transmission. The pump is a 1500 GPM pump with a 750 gallon water tank plus a foam injection system. It will carry 1000’ of 5” large diameter hose, 500’ of 2.5” and/or 3.0” hose, and over 200’ of 1.75” hose. We changed our paint scheme just a tad by adding a little black on the top and a new “swoosh” down the side.” Engine 861 cost $750,000.
The Lucas FR fleet currently includes two engines, Engine 861 and Engine 862 (Engine 2, which was decommissioned, will be sold at auction soon), two ambulances, two brush trucks, one all-terrain vehicle for off-road and horse trail rescue calls and several support vehicles which include two command vehicles.
Chief Stephens began the evening by welcoming guests. Chief Ron Grotti, who put Engine 2 into service 22 years ago, was invited to speak. He said, “(I feel) a lot of emotion when I look at that Engine 2. When we drove that in here, I insisted it be called Engine 2 because as far as I was concerned, Engine 1 was ‘Streaker’.” He added, “I helped train these guys, I didn’t know if it would work, but it did…For the next 10 years, I believe they have the equipment that will work and mitigate any emergency we see in Lucas.” Chief Grotti was the Lucas Fire Chief from 1995 to 1997 and from 2001 to 2005.
The people who served on the engine committee were recognized. Committee members included volunteer Battalion Chief Chris Kellen (committee chairperson), Captain Ethan Carver, FF/Paramedic Ian Evans, FF/Paramedic Jason Bender and volunteer Emergency Responder Matt Malik. Chief Stephens explained how this committee was selected, “We assigned these gentlemen, one chief, one captain, and one firefighter from each shift. This way all shifts had a say in what they wanted in the new fire engine. Chief Kellen has purchased many fire engines while he was Deputy Chief in Addison. All other members, this was their first engine build. Being such a young department, we felt it important to give those using the engine everyday complete buy-in to what they built for us.” Chief Stephens explained the committee’s role in designing Engine 861, “We gave the committee complete control in building the new engine. They solicited input from everyone on the department, came to the decisions necessary for the build, and then pushed it though. We built her with information from the past, but really focused on where we need to be in a month, in a year, and in five years.”
Water was transferred from Engine 2 into Engine 861. When Engine 861 went out on its first emergency after this ceremony, it used water from Engine 2 and kept the tradition alive. (Engine 861 responded to a downed tree (non-emergency) on Apr. 19, a lake emergency on Apr. 20 at Highland Park Boat Ramp and a structure fire in Seis Lagos on Apr. 24.) Chief Stephens added, “Since there will always be some water in the tank, there will always be some water from the old engine there. It allows the old engine to live with us ‘forever’.”
Assistant Chief Gant gave the engine its first ding. Chief Stephens explained, “No one wants to get the first scratch on her, so we did it for the guys. We realize it is going to happen, so we just sped up the process. Honestly though, our team is dedicated to keeping the equipment the citizens of Lucas provide to us in top notch shape, however we realize that scratches will come. This was just a fun way to ease that tension, plus it was fun to watch the crowd.”
Captain Matt Hamilton is the department chaplain and was invited to bless the in-service of this new engine. He prayed, “…We’ve been blessed with this new tool, this new equipment to serve the fine community of Lucas. We pray that you bless this apparatus, that it be reliable and trustworthy. That it be there when it is most needed…We pray for the firemen and women, paramedics and volunteers that you will protect them and guide them as they serve this community.”
In circus ringmaster fashion, Chief Stephens announced, “And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! We’re ready to push this guy into service!” The engine was flanked with enthusiastic pushers, engine lights were activated, the exterior engine bell was struck and the engine was pushed into the station. It was officially welcomed into service with a robust exclamation from Chief Stephens, “This engine is now in service!” which was met with cheers and applause.