Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On the 111th Anniversary of The University of Southern Mississippi’s founding, the Hattiesburg Fire Department revealed the latest addition to its fleet, the Screaming Eagle.
The new engine will live at Fire Station #6, which is adjacent to the university. Because of its location and the area of service covered by the station, the new engine was wrapped to match Southern Miss’ school colors – black and gold – with a nod to athletics through the golden eagle logo prominently placed on its doors.
“On March 30, 1910, a bill was signed that authorized the creation of Mississippi Normal College – now known as The University of Southern Mississippi. Our noble institution has shaped the lives of many, but more than that – it has spurred the growth of the City of Hattiesburg,” said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker. “It, along with other anchors in our community like William Carey University, Forrest General and Camp Shelby, has helped elevate the expectations and dreams for our city. The University and our city depend on one another, we benefit from one another and this truck is an illustration of that.”
Reflecting the Southern Miss spirit in design, the truck needed a name to match. In February, the City of Hattiesburg launched a naming contest available to all students at Southern Miss, as well as local private and public schools for participation.
The final name, Screaming Eagle, was submitted by three Sacred Heart School Students: MJ Gleason (kindergarten), Andrew Rutland (1st grade) and Clark Rutland (2nd grade),
“This truck went from a conversation to reality, and it’s a great symbol for the relationship our department has with Southern Miss,” said Fire Chief Sherrocko Stewart. “We provide fire protection to the entire city, including Southern Miss. And it’s only fitting that we have a truck in our fleet that is designed and named in its honor.”
The winning entry was one of more than 170 entries that were pared down to a top 10 by a panel that included Mayor Toby Barker, Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George, Chief Sherrocko Stewart, Assistant Chief Danny Wade and representatives from the University and the Southern Miss Alumni Association. Those ten names were then voted on by the firefighters assigned to Station #6, with Screaming Eagle winning with the largest vote.
“Behind the beauty of this truck, you’ll find state of art equipment to help Hattiesburg firefighters do their jobs,” said Assistant Chief Danny Wade. “This includes bright LED lighting that will help our community see us when we’re on a scene, the capacity to pump 1,250 gallons per minute should we need it and adequate storage for all of the medical gear we carry.”
After remarks were made by Barker, Stewart and Wade during the press conference, the truck was commissioned for service by all three students being the first to hose it down.
As a part of its capital expenditure budget for the 2021 fiscal year, the department purchased a new engine from Pierce Mfg for a total cost of $459,600.
Barker added, “This truck has opened the door for us to continue strengthening our connections with our local institutions in creative ways, and the community can expect to see more fleet named and wrapped in honor of more of our local institutions.”