On May 7, 2019, at the Vigilant Hose Company’s Fire Hall on West Main Street in Emmitsburg, a brand new fire engine, Engine 61, was dedicated to all past VHC chiefs and to the community they serve.

The date was selected because it was May 7, 1989 (exactly 30 years before), that the unit this engine replaces, old Engine 63, was placed into service. While old Engine 63 had proven itself many times over, both age and active use had taken their toll.

Members of the Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) participated in the ceremonial welcome presented by current VHC Chief Chad Umbel inside the firehouse. Then, attendees gathered in front of the fire house to witness several past chiefs spray down the fire truck. Next, VHC and community members picked up a towel to help to dry the engine before using “all of the member’s might” to push the fire truck “into service,” which was represented by pushing the fire truck into the engine bay.

New Engine 61 had been developed from more than 6-months of detailed design, construction, testing, and acceptance testing in Appleton, Wisconsin. Engine 61 has a range of critically important safety and operational capabilities necessary to serve the diversity and complexity of the VHC’s response area.

The new engine has a Pierce ‘Enforcer’ style cab (for 6 seat-belted personnel), a stainless-steel body, a 1,000-gallon water tank, a 1,500 gallon per minute pump, can supply both Class A Foam (for difficult to extinguish fires involving ordinary combustibles including deep-seated brush fires) and Class B Foam (for flammable liquid firefighting). Class A Foam is applied via the unit’s built-in ‘Compressed Air Foam System’ (or CAFS) which has proven to be very beneficial on VHC’s other front-line pumper, Engine-Tanker 64 (a year 2000 model unit).

Only about 1 percent of VHC’s 100-square mile response district has water mains and fire hydrants. Many buildings both in town and in the outlying areas are well over a century old – in fact, some are double that age. Multi-story structures, the range of weather conditions and the mix of residential, commercial, agriculture and institutional occupancies here combined with roadway and farm emergencies require modern equipment be on hand and at the ready 24/7, 365.

The fully-outfitted unit cost the VHC nearly three-quarters of a million dollars. Credit goes to VHC’s hard-working volunteers working tirelessly to make this dream a reality plus at massive cost savings to area taxpayers, too.

VHC’s former fire chiefs hold the water hose to spray down the new Engine 61.

Community and fire company members help to towel dry Engine 61.

Members use “all of their might” to push the fire truck “into service” in the engine bay.

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