Kennebunk Fire Capt. Nate Howe ceremonially washes off the tires of the department’s new No. 4 engine Saturday afternoon.  Photo by  Kevin A. Byron

KENNEBUNK – A brand new, 2019 Sutphen 1,500-gallon pumper was formally placed into service Saturday at Kennebunk Fire Rescue. The new truck, which holds 1,000 gallons of water and can carry five firefighters and all their gear, replaced a 1992 model. Both are called Engine 4, said Kennebunk Fire Chief Jeff Rowe.

As family, friends, and the public looked on, firefighters washed the wheels of the new engine, part of a country-wide practice that is relatively new to Kennebunk. Rowe said there a couple of stories about the tradition – the first being that during the days of horse-drawn fire engines, the wheels were washed of the droppings the horses left behind before the engine was placed in the station. Another story is that the wheels of the horse drawn wagons were wooden, and so the wash down caused the spokes to tighten and sit well in the wheels.

On Saturday, firefighters completed a ceremonial wheel wash, the new vehicle was blessed by the Rev. Carolyn Lambert, and then with all firefighters hands touching the vehicle, it was “pushed” into the fire station – Rowe noted the weight is considerably more than a horse-drawn wagon would have been, so it was “pushed” with the aid of the vehicle engine.

“The guys and gals are proud of the truck and we’re certainly thankful to the town for supporting this,” said Rowe who said the price tag for the vehicle was $529,000.

The 1992 model is being stored in one of Kennebunk’s other fire stations, and Rowe said the town will consider selling it.

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