The Kalida Fire Department’s new Engine 71 was showcased to the public for the first time during Pioneer Days. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)
The Kalida Fire Department’s new Engine 71 was showcased to the public for the first time during Pioneer Days. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)

KALIDA — As the sesquicentennial of what is touted as Ohio’s longest standing festival, this year’s Pioneer Days Festival was immediately a special event. There was, however, a mini event within the overall celebration acknowledging residents’ commitment to public safety: the first public showing of the Kalida Fire Department’s new fire engine.

Built at a cost of roughly $600,000 on a Spartan chassis, the engine boasts a 1,000 gallon water tank, and is capable of pumping 1,500 gallons of water per minute.

“We took possession of it in June, and it went in service in July,” Fire Chief Ryan Kerner said, adding the engine was ordered nearly a year before from Wellston, Ohio based Johnson’s Emergency Vehicle Solutions.

Though slow in arriving, the fire department wasted no time in putting it to use.

“It had it’s first fire within less than 24 hours of us having it in our possession,” Kerner said.

Kerner further remarked the funds which made the purchase possible came from tax levies supported by residents of the fire district.

“We want to thank the taxpayers for showing up at the ballot box,” he said. “We appreciate their funding the best service we can provide, with some of the best equipment. We want to be able to provide what they need when they need it.”

And updating older equipment, as with the new Engine 71, is a significant step toward maintaining that goal.

“It replaced a 1999 engine that we sold to the Paradise Valley Fire District in Bonners Ferry, Idaho,” he said. “They had a need for it and it was what they were looking for. So we got lucky.”

Even so, all of the best equipment is of little use without the men and women who give of themselves to help keep the public safe, and to provide immediate assistance in times of calamity.

“We are actively looking for new members, 18 years and older, and who live within our fire district,” Kerner said, adding all training costs, outside of the time provided by all new volunteers, are paid by the fire district.