PHS invites public to traditional ‘wet down/push in’ ceremony to celebrate truck, launch of Firefighting CTE

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GLOCESTER – The Foster-Glocester Regional School District is hosting a tradition known as, “wet-down/push-in,” next week to celebrate the delivery of a new fire truck to be housed at Ponaganset High School, and the launch of the school’s new Firefighting Career and Technical Education program.

Over a four-year period, students in the new CTE will take Firefighter I, II and EMT as courses during the school day, taught by teachers at PHS who also serve their individual communities as volunteer firefighters. The classes will include hands-on training such as search and rescue, how to advance hose lines, structural firefighting techniques in addition to classroom lectures on building construction, fire ground safety and hazardous material response.

Aiding in the coursework will be a new fire engine, a 1983 Ford Ranger with a 1000 GPM pump, which recently came out of service as Engine 2 in Fairhaven, Mass. The truck was donated to the school by Greenwood Emergency Vehicles.

“Their award winning sales staff has assisted us with the specifications and product information to help us get the right fire truck to advance our CTE program here at PHS,” noted a release on the program. “They have offered us an unmatched combination of providing an excellent truck and highly trained technical assistance.”

On Tuesday, June 4, starting at 5 p.m., the district will continue a decades old tradition of inviting the community to push the new engine backward into the fire station bay. The tradition began in the late 1800s, when fire departments used hand-drawn pumpers and horse-drawn equipment that needed to be hand-pushed back into the bays themselves.

Before pushing the apparatus back in the bay, the firefighters would also wash down the pumpers and the horses, before readying both for the next fire call. The event’s pinnacle was the truck wet down, where the new fire trucks were sprayed with water as a symbol of good fortune. Attendees participated in the symbolic act of pushing the new fire trucks into their bays, marking their official entry into service.

Next Tuesday’s event, to be held in front of the school at 137 Anan Wade Road, will instead mark the official launch of the CTE program.

The unique CTE was thought up PHS history teacher Christopher Stanley, a firefighter himself. Stanley acquired a $100,000 grant from the Champlin Foundation to start the program.

Christopher Stanley

He notes that the school currently has garage space to house the new truck, but he’s hopeful that in the future it will occupy a grander space, with an entire facility to be built at PHS to hold not only the engine, but a classroom, a museum and a mock dispatch center as an expansion of Ponaganset’s CTE programs.

“The funding would be obtained through a variety of federal, state and private grants,” he said.  

In a letter, U.S. Fire Administrator Lori Moore-Merrell congratulated the district on the achievements thusfar.

“Thank you for being an excellent example of how to meet our National Strategic Goal to invest in recruitment and retention programs to address the shortage of firefighters and make the fire service more diverse and inclusive,” noted Moore-Merrell.

Students who reside outside of the Foster-Glocester School District must submit an application to attend PHS. Applications are available on the district website at: https://www.fg.k12.ri.us/apply. Priority is given to in-district students for enrollment in our CTE Programs. Once the Master Schedule is developed, any remaining available seats will be filled by qualified applicants using a lottery system in accordance with the RI Regulations on Career and Technical Education. A waiting list will be established where space is not available. 

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