Clarion Fire & Hose Company Says Goodbye to Longstanding Fire Truck Ride Tradition
(Photos from Autumn Leaf Festival 2017)
According to Mike Chesterfield, President and Assistant Chief of Clarion Fire & Hose Company No. 1, the decision to stop giving rides on the trucks during the big annual festival wasn’t made lightly.
“It was a tough decision. We spent quite a bit of time talking about it last year,” Chesterfield told exploreClarion.com.
“It is unfortunate and it will be sad for a lot of people, but at the end of the day, we need to serve our community as best we can.”
He noted that the main basis of the decision was increasing safety concerns.
“Fire truck rides are something that have been done, across the country, for years, but over the last decade they’ve been disappearing, and it’s all because of safety concerns.”
Although Chesterfield attempted to trace back the origins of the fire truck ride tradition in Clarion, he was unable to pinpoint exactly when or how it began. However, he did find it dated back to at least the 1970s, and possibly even the 1960s.
Nevertheless, it is the changes in the equipment since those days that have led to the more recent safety concerns, he noted.
“The way the (fire) trucks are built today isn’t like they were built back then. They’re significantly higher.”
With most modern-day trucks being well over ten feet tall, and having no safety restraints for people riding on top of them, the possibility of someone falling and being injured is just too great.
“We need to look out for everyone’s safety. We respond to emergencies – we don’t want to be at the center of an emergency happening. We need to do the right thing for the public, as well as for us.”
Chesterfield noted that it was discussed within the company, as well with insurers, and it was finally decided to discontinue the rides for the foreseeable future.
However, he also said that Clarion Fire & Hose Company is looking at other possibilities for future events at the firehouse in Clarion during future Autumn Leaf Festivals.
“We want to stick with a theme of something for families and younger kids, and we did just purchase an inflatable fire safety house people can tour through, but we want to create a really fun event, not just a walk-through.”
“We’re looking at a lot of different possibilities, maybe even something like a challenge or an obstacle course for kids. We have lots of ideas, but we want to have a solid plan before we initiate something new.”
He noted that one of the things the popular fire truck rides had been known for was the long lines, and that is also something they’re hoping to eliminate in future events.
“We want something people can flow through. We want something people can come in and experience and get something out of it, something educational, but still really fun.”
Chesterfield indicated the fire company, which previously has the Knights of Columbus selling popcorn and drinks during the fire truck rides, is also open to partnering with them again or other local organizations or businesses again in the future, as well.
“We’re always open to different ideas, but that night was never about making money. It was about being there for the community, and we want to keep doing that, being there for families and having them get something out of it.”
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