Lansing Fire Engine E29 debuts in traditional ‘push-in ceremony’

by Jennifer Yos

LANSING, Ill. (July 8, 2020) – After nearly two years that included fire engine designing, taking bids, seeking Village approval, and monitoring the manufacturing process, the Lansing Fire Department officially welcomed its brand new custom-designed E-One fire engine—E29—to Station 29 on Tuesday, June 30. Following a week of training and becoming familiar with the new layout and longer length of the state-of-the-art engine, the Lansing Fire Department hosted its first-ever push-in ceremony on Tuesday, July 7.

A push-in ceremony is a time-honored firehouse tradition that dates back to the mid-1800s when steam pumpers were horse-drawn. After a fire, firefighters would unharness the horses, wet them down, and then manually back the pumper into its stall. Although modern fire engines can easily reverse into a fire station bay, the Push-in Dedication Ceremony, Deputy Chief John Grady explained, is a ritual “to honor the legacy of those that came before us.” At Lansing’s E29 push-in, firefighters and Village officials alike joined in “pushing” the engine into place with the assistance of a driver behind the wheel.

Firefighters and Village officials prepare to push the E29 into Fire Station #29. (Photo: Jennifer Yos)
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This was the Lansing Fire Department’s first push-in ceremony, and Chief Chad Kooyenga said he plans to continue the tradition with each new piece of equipment. (Photo: Jennifer Yos)

At the ceremony, Chief Kooyenga acknowledged and credited the firefighters who played a role in proposing and acquiring the new engine. They include retired Lansing Fire Chief Ken Verkaik, retired Deputy Chief Mike Templeman, current Deputy Chief John Grady, and his fellow Department Engine Committee members—Lt. Keith Zigterman, Eng. Martin Burns, and FF Kyle Hasselbring.

Deputy Chief Grady pointed out that the E29 was “sorely needed” and replaced a 1987 GMC conventional cab pumper, which will be donated to a firehouse in southern Illinois. The new engine, he pointed out, was specifically designed to reflect LFD’s staffing needs and their purpose of best serving the Village of Lansing.

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In March of 2019 Grady spoke at length with The Lansing Journal about the specifications and improvements built into the E29 design. The fire engine was originally scheduled for delivery in October of 2019, but high demand and then COVID-19 slowed the manufacturing process and delayed the date of arrival.

Grady said he expects to have the E29 in service after the push-in ceremony, once firefighting tools are added.

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