Wylie Fire-Rescue held a pair of ceremonies over the weekend to officially open Fire Station No. 4.
The grand opening ceremony was held Friday, May 13, and a Push-In Ceremony was held Saturday, May 14, at the newest fire station, located at 3200 McMillen Drive.
Along with the grand opening, the department also unveiled a sculpture commissioned in remembrance of the 343 firefighters who died 21 years ago on 9/11.
There were several speakers at the grand opening, including Mayor Matthew Porter and Fire Chief Brandon Blythe.
“What an amazing day for our community,” Porter said. “Wylie Fire-Rescue is one of the premier fire services in the state of Texas and the country.”
Porter thanked everyone for attending the grand opening, adding that an investment in first responders is an investment in the community.
“I can’t think of a more deserving group or a more deserving community to be blessed with such a great organization,” Porter said.
After the mayor’s remarks, Blythe gave a brief overview of the fire station.
“This has been in the works since 2009 when we did a master plan for all of our future fire stations,” Blythe said. “We bought this property in 2011 and have been working on it ever since.”
Blythe joked about some of the issues the department faced in the weeks leading up to the grand opening, such as increased costs and shipping delays.
“Superstitious or not,” Blythe said, “do not do a project like this and open it on Friday the 13th.”
Blythe thanked the community, city staff and leadership councilmembers in attendance.
Among the speakers were two New York City first responders — Mitch Rosen of the New York Port Authority Police Department and Ron Parker of the New York Fire Department. Both men participated in search and rescue operations at ground zero.
Rosen, who has been a color pencil artist since he was six years old, said he took photos during search and operation efforts. The images eventually became the inspiration for his piece “Search for Heroes,” which hangs in the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City. He donated a framed copy of the drawing to Wylie Fire Rescue to hang in the new fire station.
Although Parker was on vacation at his newly purchased New Jersey home, when he learned of the attacks, he told his wife that he had to go to work and begin the 35-mile drive to Ground Zero.
The former firefighter credits his wife’s decision to move to New Jersey with saving his life because the drive delayed his arrival on the scene.
Hundreds of residents attended the Push-In Ceremony Saturday, May 14, where WF-R Caption Ray Jackson briefly explained the significance of the ceremony. Part of the tradition includes a “wet down,” a symbolic cleaning of a new firefighting apparatus, in this case, a new Quint. After the wet down, firefighters and community members push the new apparatus into the fire station, where it is officially commissioned into service by dispatch.
Among those in attendance was A.B. Simmons, who served with the department for 35 years and recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
Jackson said the tradition dates back to the 1800s when fire departments relied on horse-drawn fire fighting apparatuses.
After leaving the scene, firefighters would clean the apparatus and the horses that pulled it. They would then have to push the apparatus into the fire station, where they would await their next call.