A volunteer fire station is rolling out its new high-tech fire-fighting truck.  The East Rivanna Volunteer Fire Company hosted an open house and dedication ceremony Sunday for the new engine.

It's named to honor one of the company's own, and the chief says the upgraded equipment will keep neighbors and firefighters safer.

The newest truck in East Rivanna's fleet is named "The Hawk" - after Albemarle's first African-American Fire Chief Alfred Hawkins.

Friends and family gathered at the station Sunday to celebrate the new state-of-the-art engine and Hawkins' contributions to the company.

"As my young daughter stated as we were entering on the grounds, and she said to me, she said it's raining," Kelvin Hawkins, Alfred's son, said. "She said he's crying tears of joy from heaven today."

Kelvin Hawkins says the East Rivanna Volunteer Fire Company in Keswick was one of his father's favorite places.

"When we were young, he spent a lot of hours here at the fire department and invested a lot of time because it was something that he loved and it was very dear to him," he said.

Alfred Hawkins served as the department's fire chief from 1976 to 1986. He passed away almost three years ago. But members of his firefighting family say his legacy will live on through their newest engine.

"All of our trucks have names and they all have stories and we felt it appropriate to give this truck a name that had strength behind it and some value within the fire community," said East Rivanna Fire Chief Calvin Butler.

"The Hawk" offers the fire company an array of upgrades including more emergency lighting, seat belt sensors and a new compressed foam air system.

"This truck carries everything from firefighting equipment, motor vehicle extraction equipment, emergency medical equipment, water rescue equipment," said Butler.  "We're trying to combine all the possibilities of what we may run into in one vehicle.  When we go out, it's a one-stop shop."

Butler says this truck is better equipped to keep firefighters and the community safe.

"For the overall usage in the community and the folks we serve, we can do 10 times more with this but more importantly for our folks, they're so much safer in this vehicle," he said.

It's a powerful engine that embodies Hawkins' passionate spirit for protecting his community.

"He was a member of the family and loved the fire department.  That was a great passion of his and he loved being here, he loved serving the community, and loved being involved, and having some impact in the area," Kelvin Hawkins said.

The East Rivanna Volunteer Fire Company received its new truck about two weeks ago.  The chief expects it to be in service and responding to calls by next Monday.