St. Charles To Hold Old-Fashioned 'Push In' Ceremony to Welcome New Fire Engine

St. Charles To Hold Old-Fashioned ‘Push In’ Ceremony to Welcome New Fire Engine

Norman Rockwell’s 1971 illustration “The New American LaFrance Is Here!”

Under the category of “now there’s something you don’t see every day,” the St. Charles Fires Department announced this week that it will bring back the traditional “push in” ceremony to celebrate the Oct. 21 dedication of its new Engine Company 102 truck.

According to, the celebration of the arrival of a new piece of apparatus has been a source of pride for volunteer fire companies for more than 100 years.

“The volunteers of the 18th and 19th centuries spared no expense in outfitting and decorating their new ‘engins’ (a popular term in the 19th century),” Fire Engineer’s Glenn Corbett writes. “For decades, 19th-century volunteers in our largest cities retained the services of some of the most famous artists of the period including John Woodside, Thomas Sully, and Joseph Johnson, who rendered incredible pieces of art on the rigs, composed of patriotic, mythological, and historical scenes. Many of these companies held soirees and other social events to mark the occasion of the new piece of equipment.”

St. Charles’ event probably won’t be quite that fantastic in scope, but the traditional ceremony — which will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at Fire Station No. 2, 2900 Production Dr. — is a true celebration of community.

Norman Rockwell’s 1971 illustration “The New American LaFrance Is Here!” captured the moment of a new engine’s arrival. Showing his hometown Victorian firehouse in Stockbridge, MA, Rockwell conveyed the excitement in the town, showing children-and even adults-rushing to see the modern fire engine. Next to it is the retired 1920s-era pumper.

Corbett says the evolution of the event to commemorate a new truck is not clear.

“Certainly, parties and soirees were held in its honor. In the era of hand pumpers, a new engine attracted the attention of rival engine companies by attempting to ‘wash’ the new engine. The rival engine would pump at a rate faster than the new engine, causing water to fill the reservoir at the rear of the new engine and flood over the engine’s sides. It is perhaps this ‘washing’ from which the ‘wetdown’ has evolved.”

The St. Charles Fire Department news release says the Push-In Ceremony is a tradition that dates back to the late 1800s when fire departments used hand-drawn pumpers and horse-drawn equipment. Upon returning to the station after a fire call, the horses could not easily back the equipment into the station. So they were disconnected from the fire equipment and firefighters would push the equipment back in to the bays themselves.

St. Charles Fire Department ‘Push In’ Ceremony

    • Remarks by St. Charles Fire Chief Joseph Schelstreet
    • Retire Old Engine 102
    • Bless New Engine 102 by Father David Peck
    • Push-In New Engine 102
    • Sound Tri Com Still Alarm                         
  • WHEN: 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017
  • WHERE: St. Charles Fire Station No. 2, 2900 Production Drive, St. Charles
  • PARKING: Additional parking is available at the DuKane Corporation, 2900 DuKane Drive, across the street from Fire Station No. 2.

About the City of St. Charles

Friendly neighborhoods, diverse retailers, international employers, innovative schools, beautiful parks, varied cultural amenities, and unique architecture have earned St. Charles its reputation as the Pride of the Fox. Located in both DuPage and Kane counties, the City of St. Charles is 35 miles west of downtown Chicago, and has a population of approximately 33,000. Over 2,100 businesses, consisting of a balanced mix of retailers, restaurants and manufacturing facilities, employ more than 18,000 people. The City of St. Charles was named the #1 City for Families by Family Circle® magazine in 2011; one of the “150 Great Places in Illinois,” by the AIA Illinois; and one of the “Top 10 Towns To Live In” by West Suburban Living magazine.

SOURCE: city of St. Charles news release