By JUDY SHERIDAN
The recent arrival of shiny new Aledo Fire Department Engine 34 was celebrated Thursday afternoon in a century-old traditional push ceremony on Mesquite Street that climaxed with radio dispatch announcing the $440,000 rescue pumper’s readiness for service.
The ceremony included a blessing for safety and protection from Father Jay Atwood, a symbolic transfer of the “ever-ready” water from the old engine to the new, and a first bath, with spectators mopping up afterward with commemorative towels.
When it was all over the crowd shouldered the engine back into the bay, marking the days when horses — which pulled the apparatus but couldn’t back them up — made that effort a requirement.
ESD No. 1 board president Rena Peden, Parker County Judge Mark Riley, Aledo Mayor Kit Marshall and ESD No. 1 Fire Chief Eric Vinson spoke at the event, which also lauded the successful annexation of the Aledo Volunteer Fire Department by ESD No. 1.
Peden described the merger as a smooth transition, adding that new facilities would be “a big part of what we’re doing over the next couple years.”
A committee made up of Marshall, Steve Bartley, Jim Hardick, Michelle Ramsey, Jon Roark and Landry Burdine has been tasked with helping locate new fire station sites, she said.
“We’re going to be working continually until we get the first one done, which we hope will be south of town,” she said, “then we will work on a new main fire station, and we don’t know where that will be right now.”
Vinson said the ESD’s board of commissioners was making a statement with the new truck.
“They believe in you, they believe in the citizens, and they believe this department is going to become part of the flagship that we call ESD 1,” he said.
Aledo has always been a “premier department,” Riley offered, calling the new engine “proof of what positive partnerships can do when we work at bringing people together instead of trying to tear each other down.”
“You’re not a city fire department, but so many positive things have come about because of collaborative efforts,” Marshall echoed. “It was no easy task to get to where we are today, but the benefits, not just to the city but to the greater community of Aledo are tremendous.”