By Brian Cohen
Sometimes to go forward, you need a little pushback.
On Sunday, April 15, at 2 p.m., the public is invited to the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department’s dedication and pushback of their new E-56 pumper at the station. Albemarle County Supervisor Ann Mallek will pay tribute to those who contributed time and effort. Refreshments will be served.
What’s a pushback?
“It comes from the days of the horse-drawn carriage,” said CFVD Assistant Chief Larry Devault. “Before motors, horses drew the fire engines. When a department got a new one, they would literally push it back into the station. And the custom carried on. Anyone can come and help push back the engine into the station. Of course, we’ll have a driver helping with a little reverse gear.”
Thanks to funding from Albemarle County and the sale of Crozet’s 20-year-old engine to another fire department out of state, the brand-new, $800,000 truck joins the CVFD’s fleet as its primary vehicle. It was customized by a poll among the department’s membership and discussion by its truck committee (Preston Gentry, Will Schmertzler, Mitch Fitzgerald, Mike Boyle, Chas Sandridge, and Butch Snead) for almost two years.
The truck, classified as a pumper, carries 801 gallons of water, more than any other CVFD vehicle. It’s stocked with a large diameter hose and small diameter attack lines, making it extremely versatile. They are also stored lower than in many trucks, creating faster access and less fatigue for the crews.
“It’s the first engine that can run from a structure fire to a vehicle fire. We can go from one scene to another, every type of call,” said DeVault. “Basically, it’s your front-line piece, most often used.”
CVFD Battalion Chief Mitch Fitzgerald said, “The county spent an additional $25,000 for a more powerful motor so we could attack Afton Mountain for those vehicle fires. With the old engine, you could almost walk faster. We were doing 35 [mph] by the time we got to mile marker 104. Now we can do 60.”
Careful thought went into other features. The handles for the six pumps are laid out on the control panel in the same orientation—front of vehicle to back—as the actual pumps. Hose clamps are orange—CVFD’s designated color—so they can all be recovered after a multi-company call. A large mudflap, emblazoned with “Crozet Volunteers,” keeps the back clean. There’s even a small refrigerator to hold cold water for long, hot calls.
Finally, unique to the CVFD, is the “Crozet” cutout in the front fender. It lights up white at night and in red when the emergency lights are on.
For more information on the dedication and pushback, call the CVFD at 434-823-4758 or visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/crozetvfd.