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Mary Esther VFD Get New Pumper

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  • Mary Esther VFD Get New Pumper

    • Mary Esther firefighters settle into new truck, which will hit streets in about a week.

    By AMBER BOLLMAN Daily News Staff Writer

    MARY ESTHER — Nate Kalili is behind the wheel of a Mary Esther fire truck almost as often as he’s behind the wheel of his own vehicle.

    So when the department’s new $250,000 engine arrived last week, he was just as excited as anybody getting a new set of wheels.

    "There’s nothing like getting a new car," Kalili said Wednesday afternoon, as firefighters showed off their newest piece of equipment. "Especially when you’ve been driving around in something 10 years old.

    "It’s definitely a step up."

    For the past week, the department’s firefighters have been familiarizing themselves with the new engine, assigned the #11 in memory of the firefighters killed in the line of duty during the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

    Once everyone has a chance to be trained in driving the engine and operating its pump — probably in about a week or so, according to Capt. Frank Matheny — #11 will go into service as Mary Esther’s lead truck, responding first to all calls.

    The Mary Esther Fire Department is retiring its oldest engine, which has been in service for 20 years, and making #47, its 10-year-old truck, a backup.

    "Our equipment needed some upgrades, and this truck is as state-of-the-art as it gets," Matheny said.

    Engine #11 is painted with a black-over-red color scheme that firefighters have traditionally used to honor their fallen "brothers."

    The Chicago Fire Department has used those colors on its fleet for decades, and since Sept. 11, several departments in other parts of the country have also followed suit.

    Matheny said the tradition also hits home for Mary Esther, which has lost two fire chiefs in its recent history as a result of work-related problems.

    Chief William H. "Red" Sconiers died in 1989 of a heart attack shortly after returning home from an emergency call.

    Chief James Ridge also fell victim to a heart attack in 1972, "in the truck on his way back to the station, from the way I understand it," Matheny said.

    "It brings the firefighters of yesterday to life for the firefighters of today," he said.

    The new truck is loaded with all the newest gadgets and technology, and Kalili said the department has been moving things around to suit its needs.

    "Fire trucks are all about accessories," Kalili said.

    "You want to get all the equipment in the spot where it’s going to be the easiest for you to use."

    Across the top of engine #11’s front, in gold lettering, is the phrase "Let’s Roll," a special touch added by Chief Ron McArtor.

    "Our department motto is ‘Always ready,’ " Matheny said.

    "We want to make sure that even our truck lives up to that."
    • Staff Writer Amber Bollman can be reached at 863-1111, Ext. 445, or [email protected]
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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