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Cross country journey brings new tanker to Gorham FD

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
September 10, 2020
GORHAM — The Gorham Police Department welcomed a brand new 2021 freight-liner to its fleet this past week. Fire Chief Phil Cloutier and Lt. Paul Gleeson made the flight out to Minnesota, then drove the truck back, making several interesting stops along the way.

On the first day headed back east, Cloutier and Gleeson banked 268 miles.

Cloutier said, "We started off the day at Midwest Fire with a complete overview of the truck, including pump operations and all the pump test specs. We completed paperwork around one o'clock and started heading home."

He went on to describe the Minnesota landscape, recalling "This state is pretty flat, with a lot of road construction, windmills and farmland as far as the eye can see. We finished the day crossing the Mississippi River before stopping in La Crosse, Wisc. for the night."

On day two, the duo traveled 387 miles.

"We started the day in Wisconsin and ended in Indiana," Cloutier said. "Along the way we followed Interstate 90 through Chicago. Paul wheeled us through a few neighborhoods and we stopped for pictures in front of Chicago Fire Station 18, which is the station featured on the television show Chicago Fire."

They then passed by the home of the Chicago White Sox and drove over the Chicago Skyway Bridge.

"From here, we stopped for the night in Elkhart, Indiana," explained Cloutier.

The trip totaled 1,645 miles, which amounted to about 35 driving hours over the course of four days.

"We traveled through eight states during our trip, saw many different things, and stopped at a few neat places," said the Chief.

He added, "We stopped at the RV Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana, the house from A Christmas Story and travelled through downtown Cleveland."

Cloutier said before the trip, he had some idea of what he wanted to stop and see along the way, but many things popped up as the miles rolled on by.

As far as leaving the bubble of northern New Hampshire, Cloutier said, "It was nice to get away for a bit, but everything out there was similar to how it is here. Everything seemed pretty normal with much of it rural. Everyone was wearing masks on the plane and in the airport and out at restaurants, they know the drill."

"I had never been on a road trip that long before, so it was nice to just see part of the country. There were a lot of corn fields and farms, with bigger cities scattered in," said Cloutier.

A highlight for Cloutier was seeing the fire station in Chicago where the T.V. show "Chicago Fire" is filmed.

"It was pretty interesting to see something in person that I have seen on T.V. So many times," he said.

The freight-liner gets roughly eight miles to the gallon, which made for frequent gas fill ups, but Cloutier said, it could have been worse.

On Sept. 1, a homing ceremony was held for the new truck, that joins the oldest truck in the fleet that was built in 1861. The blessing was performed by Rev. Mary White.

Century old traditions took place during the ceremony.

Cloutier explained, "We held a wet down ceremony. This tradition originally started when departments filled the new truck's water tank using water from the old truck's tank. The process typically resulted in spillage which "wet down" the truck. Today we are using the deck gun on Engine 3 and Engine 4 to wet down Tanker 1."

The push in ceremony also has its place in history.

"The tradition of the push in, started with horse drawn fire apparatus. The inability of the horses to easily back up the apparatus led to crews unhitching the horses and pushing them into the station. We pushed Tanker 1 into the center bay of the station to observe this tradition," said Cloutier.

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