Windsor VFD celebrates new Heavy Rescue truck

Published 1:35 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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Last Sunday afternoon, firefighters from Windsor, Smithfield and Carrsville gathered at the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department for a “wetting ceremony” to celebrate the newest addition to the WVFD’s fleet: a 2019 Pierce Heavy Rescue.

According to WFVD Lt. Walter Bernacki, the new vehicle will replace the department’s 1999 International 4900 Heavy Rescue, which was donated by Smithfield’s VFD 10 years ago. He explained that the International Heavy Rescue had become outdated and undersized for the WVFD’s needs due to an increase in the number and type of service calls the department has been receiving.

“This rescue truck is almost three years in the making, from the time ideas were tossed around until its delivery and in-service on Sept. 21,” Bernacki said.

The 2019 heavy rescue, he said, is designed to fulfill three functions. The first is transporting the necessary fire and rescue equipment to mitigate all hazards, including that which is needed to disentangle people from vehicle, railroad and aircraft accidents, as well as gear for providing an initial response to hazardous material or confined space emergencies.

Its second purpose is serving as a command post for any emergency needing an incident command. Its third purpose is serving as a rehab unit and shelter for firefighters needing rest and recovery in extreme temperatures, or when working for an extended period during emergency scenes.

The unit is also designed with firefighter safety in mind when they are on the road, coming equipped with rollover protection, airbags in the passenger cab and a 360-degree camera system, which allows the driver to see all around the vehicle. Bernacki added that the vehicle also comes with a tower light for better scene illumination, and a visual warning package, which includes LED lighting and front and rear chevron striping for better visibility when in traffic.

“First and foremost, we want to thank the citizens of Windsor and Isle of Wight for their support of our fire department,” he said. “You are there every November for our annual barbecue fundraiser, you are there when it comes to supporting us at budget time and you are here today to show us you believe we are making a difference. It is because of you that we, the members of the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department, selflessly give our time and risk our lives.”

Bernacki added that the profits from the department’s annual barbecue fundraiser had gone toward the purchase of the vehicle, with additional money contributed from Isle of Wight County. He then thanked the members of the WFVD’s Apparatus Committee, who he said spent “many hours of research, viewing other apparatus for ideas, planning the specifications and layout of the Rescue, and trips to ensure it was being manufactured properly.”

Following Bernacki’s comments, the Rev. Basil L. “Buzz” Ballard of Sgt. Jayton D. Patterson Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4411 delivered an invocation and anointed the vehicle with oil. The event concluded with the “wetting” part of the wetting ceremony, which involved firefighters from Smithfield’s and Carrsville’s VFDs simultaneously hosing down the new vehicle.