Convoys of trucks from neighboring fire departments trucks rolled into Chester Commons Park at intervals, horns honking and sirens blaring.
They pulled up in front of the lineup of Chester's new firefighting apparatus and doused them with streams of water. After baptizing the trucks, some companies turned the hoses on each other.
The Chester Fire Department's “wet-down” on Aug. 17 was a traditional celebration of the new apparatus in its fleet. It was a fun and exciting event — it was hard to tell who enjoyed themselves more, the spectators or the firefighters.
The celebration lasted from noon to 4 p.m. and included lots of free burgers, hot dogs, cookies, and beer, enjoyed under tents erected for the occasion.
The fire departments that came to celebrate with Chester included Otisville, Circleville, Warwick, Pine Island, Fort Montgomery, Middletown, Greenwood Lake, Lakeside and Harriman from Monroe, among others.
Chester Fire Chief Pat McKevitt saluted present and former members of the department.
“All apparatus were purchased out of the Chester Fire District's Apparatus Reserve Fund, without the need for any bonds," McKevitt. "Some of the funds used for the purchases have been replaced through the receipt of the grant funding and the sale of the vehicles they replaced.”
Taxpayers were thanked for their support, as were Larkin and NYS Senator James Skoufis. Thanks also went out to the Goshen Fire Department for being on standby and to the New Hampton Fire Department crew.
Bob Favara, past-chief and a member of Sugar Loaf Engine Co., was there with his grandsons, Robbie III, 8, and Jackson Reese, 6.
“I liked it really good,” Robbie said.
Jackson agreed. “I loved being wet, and the trucks," he said.
“This is a brand-new fleet that we have," Favara said. "Thank you to the board of fire directors and the fire commissioners and the people of Chester, because obviously their taxpayers’ money bought that. We probably have a very modern fleet, and we should be able to protect Chester residents for years to come.”
Matthew Csernai, a junior firefighter from Chester, said his favorite part was the hose-down.
“We have great men and women who volunteer for our community," said NYS Assemblyman Colin Schmitt. "I’m proud to support them each and every day. Proud to be out here with my wife, Nikki, showing support for our first responders, God bless them all.”
Supervisor Bob Valentine said, “I’m so proud of our local fire department here in Chester. It’s a wonderful thing, the way they support our town — all volunteer.”