Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On the front of a three-game home series for the Hattiesburg High Tigers, the Hattiesburg Fire Department revealed the latest addition to its fleet, a new platform ladder truck painted purple and aptly named “Purple Rain.”
The new platform ladder apparatus will live at Fire Station #1 on North Main Street, which has a service area that includes the Hattiesburg Public School District Office, Hattiesburg High School and Hawkins Elementary School in its immediate vicinity.
“One critical focus for our administration has been to create opportunities to forge and solidify a civic identity – as one Hattiesburg, firmly supporting our public school district,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “We believe our community will only go as far as our public schools will take us, and each new school year opens more possibilities of cultivating a rising generation of Hattiesburgers who feel connected to their town and their school and want to see it prosper.”
Because of where it will live, Ladder #1 has been designed and wrapped in Hattiesburg Public School District colors, with a mascot treatment and word marks.
Reflecting the Hattiesburg Tiger spirit in design, the truck needed a name to match. In August, the City of Hattiesburg launched a naming contest available for participation by the entire community.
This type of community engagement follows the same steps taken to unveil and name Big Red (Engine 4) at Station #4 and the Screaming Eagle (Engine 6) at Station 6. It also allows for the department to educate the public on the type of equipment the Hattiesburg Fire Department uses every day to keep our residents and businesses safe.
The City received more than 160 suggestions from community members of all ages – from students to senior citizens. Some of those names included Tiger 1, Roaring Tiger and Eye of the Tiger. The ballot was narrowed to six and then voted on by a panel of fire department leadership, school district leadership and firefighters from Station 1.
The winning name, Purple Rain, was submitted by 14 residents of all ages: Nick Brown, Jr (a student at Thames Elementary); LaToya Griffin (a Hattiesburg Parks & Rec employee); Lisa Lott; Caila Bowie (a parent of students at Thames Elementary); Christian Tisdale (9th grader at Hattiesburg High); Mike Peterson (the voice of the Hattiesburg High Tigers); Keiara Holloway, Elysia Hollingsworth, Cy’Lan Anderson (8th grader at N.R. Burger); Gabriel Eaton, Cathy Clark (a teacher at Lillie Burney); Michael Ginn; Jaleigha Porter (a 2nd grader at Grace Christian Elementary); and Julie Arender (an assistant principal at Hattiesburg High).
“Although this truck took two years to order, design and build – we are proud to be the home to the city’s first platform ladder apparatus while also sharing in another way to engage our community,” said Fire Chief Sherrocko Stewart. “We provide fire protection to the entire city, including all of our Hattiesburg Public Schools. It’s only fitting that we have a truck in our fleet that is designed and named in its honor.”
After remarks were made by Barker, Stewart and Dr. Robert Williams, superintendent of Hattiesburg Public Schools, during the press conference, the truck was commissioned for service by the community members in attendance who helped select the name.
As a part of its capital expenditure budget for the 2022 fiscal year, the department purchased this truck from Pierce Manufacturing for a little under $1.3 million using American Rescue Plan Act funds to do so.
Barker added, “We look forward to seeing this truck at parades, events and maybe even a home football game tomorrow night when we host our suburban rivals. But the real story is that this vehicle will be out empowering the brave men and women of the Hattiesburg Fire Department as they save lives and property each and every day. That’s why we have a Class 3 fire rating. That’s why we invest in our firefighters. That’s why we purchase trucks and equipment and upgrade facilities. We’re grateful to them and their sacrifice. ”