By Nancy Rineman
Atlantic News, Thursday, April 4, 2002
[Atlantic News Photo by Nancy Rineman]
HAMPTON BEACH -- In a matter of minutes Tuesday morning, history was made in Hampton as the fire department's newest pumper truck arrived at the Beach Precinct fire station, just one day after beach precinct commissioners turned over the keys to the station to Hampton Fire Chief Hank Lipe.
Standing in front of the precinct station just moments before noon, Lipe spoke of the significance of the new fire truck being bought by the Town of Hampton to be delivered to the precinct fire station. The purchase of the SMEAL rescue pumper was approved by voters in March 2001 and had made the journey from Snyder, Nebraska to New England Fire Equipment in Connecticut for the final lettering.
"It should be here any minute," Lipe. said, and with a quick glance toward Brown Avenue, there it was; a brand new Engine 2 shining in the brilliant sunshine of a picture perfect day.
And just as suddenly as the new pumper's arrival appeared, Hampton's own Tom Gillick, who has been receiving much of the credit for assisting in the negotiation process between the town and the beach precinct for facilitating the transfer of equipment, Engine 4, and the lease agreement of the station itself. Gillick, currently the chairman of the Hampton Planning Board, has worn many hats, among them that of firefighter.
"This is one more example of how the Capital Improvement Plan works," a beaming Gillick offered. Climbing up into the oversized cab of the pumper, Gillick said he felt "right at home."
"They sure do make them bigger these days," Gillick said.
Lipe said that except for the large cab of the new pumper, Engine 2 and Engine 3 are the same trucks.
"We do that for standardization purposes," Lipe said.
The rescue pumper, which holds 750 of water, has the capability of pumping 2000 gallons of water a minute.
The two dozen or so citizens, firefighters and invited guests then climbed the stairs to the precinct meeting room to receive another treat — a lunch especially prepared by Lt. David Lang, following which Chief Lipe spoke about the day's event.
"What a great day!" Lipe exclaimed, with the events of the past week — the precinct donating equipment to the town - and the arrival of the new pumper. "It just makes for a moment of history that's been coming for years, since 1908," Lipe remarked. Lipe noted that the town did not have fire protection in 1908 and that the precinct formed fire protection and has purchased and maintained equipment ever since, until now.
"It will certainly help and improve the quality of fire protection at Hampton Beach," Lipe said. Lipe said the grand finale of the day would be backing the fire engine into its new home in the precinct fire station. But first, the chief had a few people to recognize for their years of service to the precinct.
[Photo above:] ARRIVING IN STYLE -- Hampton Beach's Fred Clews enjoys the first ride aboard Engine 2 Tuesday. Clews was recognized by Hampton Fire Chief Hank Lipe as being the Beach Precinct's oldest call firefighter, with more than 50 years of service to his credit.
[Atlantic News Photo by Nancy Rineman]
Describing him as the town's "oldest call firefighter," Lipe introduced Fred Clews, who later said he believes his start in the Beach Precinct fire service began 55 years ago.
"All the precinct people are grateful for that service," Lipe told Clews.
Lipe also paid tribute to Gillick for his work with the CIP, thanking him for his efforts in combining two fire departments.
"It's a labor of love," Gillick replied.
Representative Mike O'Neil also applauded the momentous occasion, saying it was a "great day for the Beach Precinct community." Town Manager James Barrington echoed the sentiments of all the speakers, adding that he hoped "whoever writes the next chapter of Hampton history will record this event."
Returning outside to the pumper, Clews climbed up next to firefighter Bill Paine to receive, along with Gillick, the first "ride around the block."
And then with all eyes fixed on the sparkling new Engine 2, firefighter Paine backed the 10 ft. high vehicle into its garage space of approximately the same height, bringing more than a few gasps from all who watched. With the addition of water and equipment, the pumper's height is expected to drop about two inches, Lipe said.