McALLEN – A dozen McAllen firefighters gathered at the front bumper of a new Pierce Impel Pumper and pushed it into service.

With the purchase McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez said the public safety of the citizens is always No. 1 for city leadership.

“Today is a great sign of what that really means,” he said. “You got three engines that are going into service for the McAllen fire department.”

Rodriguez said the city has never bought three engines in one purchase but the importance of the fire department, its personnel and the safety of the public is at the utmost importance.

The long-standing tradition, which pushes back new fire apparatuses when they are received and placed in service. The tradition dates back to when fire engines were horse drawn apparatuses. Once firefighters were finished using the equipment, it had to be pushed back into the station by hand.

When the horse drawn engines upgraded to steam it was difficult to align the steam connections on the engine with those in the station so horses were disconnected and the steamers were also often pushed back into the station by hand.

The McAllen Fire Department pushed a total of three engines into service with each costing $650,000. Each truck is equipped with a Cummins diesel engine, carries 500 gallons of water, 1,000 feet of five-inch supply hose and over 500 feet of fire attack-hose. The attack-hose can pump 1,500 gallons of water a minute.

The new units were assigned to Fire Station No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5.

The engine for Fire Station No. 2 will be put into service May 2, when the newly remodeled station opens for operation.

The city will open its second fire station in four years and they are in the preliminary planning of another fire station.

McAllen Fire Chief Rafael Balderas was under the weather during the ceremony but Assistant Chief Jim Schultz delivered his remarks which included thanking the city commission for recognizing the need for the tools to be successful.

“Today McAllen is safer because of our commission,” Schultz said.