Much like the Navy tradition of christening new ships by breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow, fire departments have a “wetdown ceremony” to dedicate new equipment.Thursday, using hoses connected to a fire hydrant at Concord High School, Principal Carla Black and Lisa Conger, director of the Cabarrus County Schools Career and Technical Education program, wet down three newly donated vehicles as the cadets washed them.Chief David Barlow, head of the Fire Academy, explained the 70-year-old tradition as he greeted cadets and other students in the audience: “The wetting down of the apparatus and crew with water symbolizes the protection from fire that all fire crews and their equipment need from the intensity of the fire and to keep them safe.”The Concord High School Fire Academy recently received donations of three vehicles:• The reserve engine Company No. 7 fire truck, a 1989 Pierce, from Concord’s Department of Fire and Life Safety, which they named Black Widow II;• A Concord High School ambulance from Cabarrus County Emergency Medical Services, which they named Gold Recluse; and• A rescue vehicle from Rockwell Rural Fire Department of Rowan County, which they named Rescue 51.Barlow introduced Black, saying, “Fire Commissioner Carla Black will lead the wetdown.” That’s not Black’s formal title, but how Barlow referred to the school principal. As soon as Barlow said, “May this water protect this truck and all who use it,” the sirens from the Concord Fire and Life Safety emergency vehicles began blaring and their lights flashing. About 90 cadets began washing the vehicles while Black and Conger wet them down. Amid the soap and spray, the cadets laughed and joked as they were hit by the water from the fire hoses.The donated equipment will help train the next generation of firefighters and allow the Concord Department of Fire and Life Safety to reclaim its antique fire engine, a 1973 American LaFrance truck, to place in its museum. Fire and Life Safety had leased the 1973 truck to the high school for $1 per year because the department wanted it returned.The Concord High School Fire Academy is considered a model program for North Carolina, and 43 of the state’s 115 school districts have visited to observe the program. Originally one of only three programs offered statewide, the training has now grown to include 25 programs across the state.All high school fire academy programs need a relationship with a partner agency, such as a fire department, in order to be successful. Concord High’s fire academy partners with Concord Fire and Life Safety, while the Emergency Medical Technician program is partnered with Cabarrus County EMS.
Wednesday, Oct. 09, 2013
Concord High School Fire Academy cadets get soaked in vehicle ‘wetdown’
To learn more: For more information about the Concord Fire Academy, contact Chief David Barlow at Concord High School or visit the academy’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Concord-High-School-Fire-Academy/119621501462986.S
Marty Price is a freelance photographer and writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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