The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
Oct. 22—The newest fire engines in Broussard don’t just have all the bells and whistles. They also have a whole lot of heart.
Each of the two new trucks, dedicated Wednesday evening, is named for a fallen firefighter of the Broussard Fire Department.
“We are honoring our fallen heroes,” Mayor Ray Bourque said. “May their spirits always be here, looking over and protecting our fire department, its personnel and our great city.”
Engine 24 is dedicated to Rhian “Queb” Quebedeaux, who worked at the department 11 years before dying from a massive heart attack in 2019. Engine 27 is dedicated to Richard “Ricky” Vice, who worked at the Fire Department for 21 years before dying from complications of cancer in 2012.
The engine dedicated to Quebedeaux arrived later than anticipated after hitting a deer about 45 minutes after leaving the factory for Broussard. Deputy Fire Chief Justin Denais became emotional during Wednesday’s dedication ceremony as he recalled Quebedeaux’s love for deer hunting.
“The only thing we could think of was Rhian’s playing with our emotions, Queb is playing with our emotions,” Denais said. “So Queb’s going to ride out with us for the duration of that truck’s life.”
Quebedeaux spent time alongside Broussard firefighters long before he officially joined the department in 2008. He was known as the go-to guy and as the best cook before he died in 2019 at the age of 42.
“If you look at every one of these firemen when I say ‘his chicken fricassee,’ every one of them is going to smile,” Denais said. “You will never eat another chicken fricassee like Rhian Quebedeaux could cook. It was definitely, by far, the best we ever had.
Quebedeaux’s wife, Kasie, said her husband only ever drove one fire engine, No. 24, during his years as a Broussard firefighter. The new Engine 24 now is named for him.
“I’m honored that my late husband’s name has been placed on Engine 24 in a city that he grew up in and in a city that we love,” Kasie Quebedeaux said. “I know that each time we pass this truck, our girls will know that their daddy is a part of it, and there is no doubt in my mind that they will come to the fire station more often just to see their dad’s truck.”
Maxine Short, Vice’s sister, said her brother used to say the fire department was like his family.
“I never understood any of this until he passed and I saw for myself what he meant,” Short said at the ceremony. “Everyone here was there for me and my family when we needed.”
Vice joined the fire department in 1991. Years later, he was diagnosed with cancer but continued to work as a firefighter for as long as he physically could. Vice died in 2012 at the age of 50.
“He was definitely a fighter,” Denais said. “He fought through it. He suffered.”
Denais said he distinctly remembers working a structure fire alongside Vice during his battle with cancer. Denais and other firefighters voiced their concern for his wellbeing, but Vice chose to stay on the scene of that fire for about 14 hours. Now, his name is on the new Engine 27.
“Although the department continues to evolve, Ricky’s legacy will continue to be carried with us,” Denais said. “Every time this truck leaves the station, Ricky’s going to be on it.”
The Fire Department’s honor guard led a symbolic bell ceremony for Vice’s and Quebedeaux’s service and presented plaques to their families during Wednesday’s event. The Rev. Andy Tribe, a retired firefighter and pastor of Youngsville Community Church, blessed the fleet.
Afterward, about two dozen people — including current and retired firefighters — placed a hand on the new engines for the traditional push-in ceremony as they were backed into the station’s bay.
The Broussard City Council approved the purchase of two $550,000 engines last year. Council Member Kenny Higginbotham commended the firefighters for their work during Wednesday’s dedication as he recalled a recent fire in his neighborhood.
“As the victims or the residents of the house were fleeing the scene, all these people here were running to the house,” Higginbotham said. “And it was amazing to watch them go. Very professional. And I couldn’t be more proud of these dedicated men and women.”
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