Story, Photos & Video by Don Backman
“Push!” someone shouted, and the group of firefighters put their shoulders up against the bumper and gave a mighty heave. The fire truck rocked back and forth.
“Maybe I should take the brake off?” joked the driver.
A stuck firetruck? A breakdown? No, just the Push-In ceremony for a brand new fire truck at the Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue District.
“We are going to push the engine in my hand.” Chris Beswick, Fire Chief of the Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue District, stated, during an interview before the ceremony. “The tradition dates back to the 1800’s. Horses couldn’t back up a loaded wagon so the firefighters had to unhitch them. The firefighters had to clean the apparatus and put it back into the station by hand.”
Chief Beswick explained that the new fire engine cost the fire district $400,000, which is actually a good price. It is a four wheel drive, high clearance engine, designed to travel rough back roads and also the paved roads. It combines the attributes of a wildland urban interface and a structural engine, greatly increasing the District’s capabilities. Beswick further went on to say that they have needed to go out onto logging roads and back roads in recent years, and the new engine will be very useful.
Chief Beswick assembled the entire organization together for announcements, and called Patrick Maher up in front of the assembled firefighters. There Beswick conducted a swearing in ceremony to acknowledge Maher’s completion of an extensive training program begun in June 2021, and that he was now a certified interior firefighter.
Leisha Mizee-Riggert and Jason Verburg were then called up front, and promoted to Lieutenant as they had successfully completed their training programs. Mizee-Riggert and Verburg were then sworn in to their new positions. Afterwards, Chief Beswick acknowledged Firefighter Dan Weitzel’s hard work and personal dedication to get the new fire engine set up and ready for service.
“I think it is important to honor the history of the fire service,” Beswick told the group. “It is important to honor the traditions of the men and women who preceded us.” With that, the room quickly emptied and everyone went to the engine bays.
Outside the fire station, the firefighters gathered around the engine in the dark and got ready to push it back inside. After a chuckle brought on by the driver’s promise to take the brake off, they bent to the task again. It took many coordinated heaves and rocking back and forth by everyone before the heavy fire engine finally rolled back into the bay. Teamwork got it done.
Now, Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue District has a new engine to put to work.