Firefighting, Truck Company, Volunteer Fire Service

Tradition: Wetdowns and Push-Ins

Issue 12 and Volume 167.

By GLENN P. CORBETT The celebration of the arrival of a new piece of apparatus has been a source of pride for volunteer fire companies for more than 100 years. The volunteers of the 18th and 19th centuries spared no expense in outfitting and decorating their new “engins” (a popular term in the 19th century). For decades, 19th-century volunteers in our largest cities retained the services of some of the most famous artists of the period including John Woodside, Thomas Sully, and Joseph Johnson, who rendered incredible pieces of art on the rigs, composed of patriotic, mythological, and historical scenes. Many of these companies held soirees and other social events to mark the occasion of the new piece of equipment. Norman Rockwell’s 1971 illustration “The New American LaFrance Is Here!” captured the moment of a new engine’s arrival. Showing his hometown Victorian firehouse in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Rockwell conveyed the excitement…

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