With the snip of a ribbon, Mayor Martin J. Walsh christened the first of the Boston Fire Department’s 23 new fire engines Thursday at the Engine 17 firehouse in Dorchester.
“With these new engines, we continue to make the Boston Fire Department stronger and more able to respond to the needs of every citizen,” Walsh said.
The children cheered as the ribbon was cut, ran their hands across the engine’s shiny red paint, and giggled when they dropped the plastic firefighter hats they had been given. At the end of the ceremony, they offered handwritten notes to the firefighters who are often seen in the halls of their school.
The school’s principal, Karyn Stranberg, said having the firefighters so close was a “lifesaver” and she “wished every school could be so close to a firehouse.”
It was a “great honor” for the children to be at the ceremony, she said, and she wished all of the school’s more than 600 pupils could attend.
The new engines are part of the mayor’s five-year plan to expand and renovate the department, said fire department spokesman Steve MacDonald. “We’re going to be adding four or five new engines every month,” said MacDonald. “So new engines for the next six months or so.”
The mayor also talked about plans to build two new firehouses: one for Engine 42 in Roxbury, the other for Engine 17 in Dorchester. The city also plans to renovate the Engine 50 firehouse in Charlestown and the Engine 33 station in Back Bay.
“One renovation will start this summer,” said MacDonald. “Another, Engine 42, the plan is to demolish the building this winter and then rebuild the station in spring 2018.”
The fire department’s budget also includes $500,000 to combat rates of cancer among firefighters, a move that Boston Fire Department Commissioner Joseph E. Finn praised.
“We had some problems with the previous administration, but we couldn’t be happier with Mayor Walsh,” Finn said. “In the last few years, we’ve made some significant changes in the ways we protect the fire department. This administration has really recognized us.”