The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) Fire & Rescue logo – emblazoned atop the shiny, bright red paint of the new fire engine – sparkled in the morning sun as the new truck claimed its spot in Fire Station No. 1.
On Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, NNSS officials, led by Fire Chief Brian Dees, symbolically pushed the 2022 Pierce Enforcer – the first new engine at the Site in more than 20 years – into its rightful place in the apparatus bay.
“It’s a well-deserved addition to the heavy fleet, and it’s going to do a lot for not only the Site community itself, but also the surrounding area,” said Dees. “It’s going to be a reliable piece of equipment that we can respond with.”
NNSS Fire & Rescue welcomed the new engine with a push-in ceremony, a tradition among fire stations dating back to the 1800s. At the time, when crews returned home from a call on horseback or hand-drawn carriages, they needed to back the equipment into the station to be prepared for a rapid response. Firefighters usually found themselves needing to detach horses from the equipment, and “push in” the equipment themselves.
As a way to pay homage to that tradition, NNSS officials gathered around the front of the engine – now called Fire Engine 1 – to “push” the truck into the station as an NNSS firefighter drove the life-saving apparatus in reverse.
“The fire truck push-in ceremony is a time-honored tradition in the fire service,” Dees told the assembled crowd. “Celebrating the arrival of a new unit has been a source of pride for fire departments across North America for almost two centuries.”
And what a source of pride it was.
The 2022 Pierce Enforcer is a type-1, structural engine featuring a 1,500 gallons-per-minute (gpm) pump, a 1,000-gallon water tank, and a 30-gallon foam tank. The new engine will help the department maintain structural firefighting capability and the required fire flow for interior firefighting. The engine enables firefighters to keep water flowing – at 1,500 gpm – on a building for two hours continuously, and brings the total engine count for the Site to four.
Obtaining new heavy fleet vehicles and updated equipment has been part of Dees’ mission since he was named Chief almost four years ago. In recent months, the department added two new utility terrain vehicles to help firefighters knock out wildland fires more quickly, battery-operated auto extraction equipment, and new chemical detection equipment.
But what they really needed was a new engine.
“We have a mission to protect,” Dees said. Fire & Rescue provides emergency response services to the 1,355-square mile Site, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring the safety of the Site’s workers performing the nuclear and high-hazard mission work, as well as numerous other projects which support national security.
Due to supply chain issues, Dees wasn’t sure if the engine would arrive in 2022. But thanks to quick work from the NNSS procurement team, and support from NNSS leadership, he was able to secure the shiny new engine – complete with all the bells and whistles – for his team of firefighters this year.
Many of them joined Chief Dees to warmly greet the truck as it arrived at the NNSS front gate bright and early on Oct. 31.
“There she is, boys!” Dees recalled telling his crew. They replied back with a sense of awe.
“These guys, they’ve only seen the pictures. So, when they started looking at it in person they said, ‘Chief, I’m impressed,’” Dees recalled. “They’re head over heels – they didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off.”
They recently got to celebrate the moment with the entire NNSS community.
“It’s a really cool piece of machine out there, but the greatest asset we have is you, our people,” MSTS President Garrett Harencak said during the push-in ceremony. “We’re committed to making sure you have everything you need. Great people need great equipment.”