On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, the Excelsior Springs Fire Department celebrated the introduction of a new 2022 Spartan pumper truck with a traditional wetting ceremony. The newly acquired pumper will replace the 2007 Spartan model, which loyally served the department and the city of Excelsior Springs for many years.
Fire Chief Joe Maddick took the lead during the ceremony, providing insight into the history and significance of this age-old ritual. He remarked, “The wetting ceremony officially places a pumper in service. It goes back to the horse-drawn eras of firefighters.” He went on to explain that upon returning to the station in those days, firefighters would unhitch the horses, wetting and washing them to remove mud and muck. After ensuring the horses were dry and comfortably housed in their stalls, the pump would be prepared for subsequent calls and then pushed manually into the station. Chief Maddick added, “In the modern era, the whole premise behind [the ceremony] is to bring good luck to the new equipment.”
The usual tradition dictates that the retiring truck sprays the new one, but since the 2007 Spartan pumper had already begun its new chapter in Southeast Missouri, the department’s ladder truck was utilized for the ritual.
After a quick spray of the new pumper, attendees each took a towel and helped dry the truck. A moving moment came when everyone present placed their hands on the pumper, and Mayor Mark Spohn offered a heartfelt prayer. Following the prayer, the pumper was ceremonially wheeled back into the station, signifying its readiness to serve the community.
Chief Maddick expressed gratitude to the Public Safety Sales Tax Committee in his speech for their unwavering support in acquiring the new pumper. He also thanked City Manager Molly McGovern for her guidance throughout the process of purchasing the new service vehicle. Chief Maddick also thanked the citizens of Excelsior Springs for their support of the fire department and personnel.
The Wetting Ceremony connects the department’s long-standing traditions with its modern responsibilities. The ceremony reflects the lasting values and commitment of the firefighters to the community and serves as a reminder of the department’s history and the continuous dedication of its members to serve and protect Excelsior Springs.