New fire engine receives blessing

Father Reggie Norman of Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church dipped his right hand into a styrofoam cup of holy water and pressed it slowly all over the red-painted body of a brand-new fire truck Dec. 6 at Wilton Fire Department headquarters.

It was the official blessing of Engine 1, which the department purchased at a cost of $578,000 from the Rosenbauer fire truck company, made in the United States.

Earlier, before the crowd of visiting dignitaries had arrived, the firefighters had done their own spiritual observance, transferring a tank of water from the old engine to the new one, said Chief Ronald Kanterman.

“We do that to represent passing the spirit to the new truck. It is the spirit of all the training and experience that was in the old truck, going into the new truck,” Kanterman said.

After the official blessing, Kanterman wanted to know, how soon can the truck be washed without interfering with the liquid blessing it had just received?

Farther Reggie, as the priest is known, told him the bottom line about blessings.

“You can’t wash off a blessing,” the priest said, and Kanterman was satisfied the job was complete.

Now it’s off to serve the public, putting out fires and saving lives and property. An engine carries water, hoses, equipment, and most importantly, firefighters, to the scene of a blaze, said Deputy Chief Mark Amatrudo.

In addition to the blessing with water, Father Reggie led a prayer of safety for the truck, and for the firefighters who will be working on it.

It’s state-of-the-art, Kanterman said.

And it’s a lot safer than the “old days,” he said, when firefighters would hang on to the truck from the rear step as it sped down the road toward a fire. A lot of firefighters were injured traveling that way.

They sit inside the cab now.

Dignitaries included First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice and visiting fire chiefs from surrounding towns.