ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The 78th Civil Engineering Group firefighters debuted two new trucks to their fleet at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, June 5.
They marked the occasion with a ceremony steeped in firehouse tradition.
The “push-in” ceremony dates back more than 100 years to a time before fire trucks were motorized and operated with horse drawn equipment.
In those days, firefighters had to actually push their trucks into the station after a call.
The Robins Air Force Base Fire Department commissioned two new water trucks –Rosenbauer 6x6 High Reach Extendable Turret/Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting vehicle and a high reach extendable turret.
“It’s just so much easier for firefighters now, because it’s all push button,” said Lt. Shane Shifflett, Robins Fire Department firefighter. “Back in the day, we had to go out and pull levers; oil the levers before going out. Now you just sit in the cab, flow the water, and push buttons.”
The “push-in” was modified for safety reasons. The 85,000 pound vehicles were not moved with human might alone.
There were firefighters inside the cabs backing the trucks into the bay.
Robins Installation Commander Col. Brian Moore joined in on the effort and shared why firefighters are close to his heart.
“I’ve got family that’s firefighters just like you all. My brother has been doing that 30 years,” said Moore.
As he motioned towards the water trucks, he added, “So it’s protected my family personally. Professionally, if you have ever been in a unit that’s had an aircraft fire like I have, understand what is necessary to have happen to protect crews. It becomes all the more important.”
Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting is a specialized firefighting category, which involves response, hazard mitigation, evacuation and possible rescue of passengers and crews of an aircraft involved in a ground emergency.
One truck will be housed at Station 2 and the other at Station 3.
So far, the trucks have only been used for daily training. However, in the event of a real emergency, firefighters say their response time will be faster and these new maneuvers could mean the difference between life and death.
“The new trucks have the boom from the top, which can actually raise out and puncture an aircraft,” said Shifflett. “They’re a lot faster and a lot more modern. If we have an in-flight emergency with cargo on fire, we can actually penetrate the aircraft, flow water and put it out inside before a crew makes entry.”