The Melissa Fire Department celebrated the addition of its newest vehicle Friday with a push-in ceremony attended by area first responders, city officials and community members.


The 2019 Ferrara custom rescue pumper was put on display, hosed down and rolled into the department’s garage on Melissa Street. Melissa Fire Chief Harold Watkins said the vehicle cost an estimated $650,000 and will be a familiar sight at the city’s emergency scenes.


“This will be first out on any and every call that comes in,” Watkins said. “It’s an all hazards piece of equipment. It will respond to fire calls, medical calls, car wrecks, rescues. With the exception of having an aerial device on it, we can do anything off that vehicle. It’s a great addition to the team.”


Watkins said the department was able to transfer many tools from the pumper’s predecessor and incorporated them into the new vehicle with efficiency and firefighters’ wellness in mind.


“The design around the pumper was to be able to reach everything from the ground level, whether its grabbing the hose or grabbing medical equipment out of the cab or tools somewhere off the truck,” Watkins said. “We wanted to make accessing everything faster and safer for the crews that work on it.”


Melissa Mayor Reed Greer commended the City Council for recognizing the vehicle was a public safety necessity and ultimately approving the purchase.


“These are the exciting moments we have in the way of progress and growth,” Greer said.


Watkins said firefighters have many longstanding traditions but the push-in dates back well over a 100 years, to the days of horses and hose wagons.


“When returning from a fire, the wagons were disconnected from the horses, the horses were placed back in the stall and the wagons were pushed back in until the next call,” Watkins said. “This has continued over the years and continues to serve as an occasion to welcome any new fire apparatus to serve the community.”


Crews were set to roll the vehicle back out for attendees to view Friday, but were dispatched to an emergency call and, amid a round of applause, took the vehicle out on its first call.


“We’re excited to place this rig into service,” Watkins said.


Drew Smith is a reporter for the Anna-Melissa Tribune. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com