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Water salutes by the fire crew are regulary done for certain events like plane retiring, or an new airplane delivered and much more. But where does it come from? And why should the fire service do a water salute even if they don't really care about a pilot retiring?

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    $\begingroup$ This may come from fire boats doing the water salute in harbors. $\endgroup$
    – zeta-band
    Nov 2, 2017 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ What else does the fire service have to do? They're obviously not going to do it if they would otherwise be occupied with an emergency, so the fact that they're doing it means they aren't busy. Spraying some water around is probably at least as interesting an activity as doing training or maintenance or playing cards, so why not? $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2017 at 0:30
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    $\begingroup$ Here is a report on the tradition of the water salute. The tradition does really come from the Marine world, but I'm not sure there is a pin-point of the first use of it for aviation purposes. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Nov 3, 2017 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer - that looks like an answer to me! There wasn't a question about "first use", so addressing the tradition seems to fulfill the need. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Nov 3, 2017 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ Nasa started to spray (serious quantities of) water to celebrate rocket launches. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Nov 3, 2017 at 16:29

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Water salutes are purely ceremonial and have no practical value. There are no confirmed reports on when it started in aviation, but it became common in the 1990's.

Before aviation, this practice started for ships on their inaugural voyages or returning from a long voyage. At New York harbor, jets of water were sprayed from fire boats.

Commonly, water salutes are done for:

  • first flight of an airplane
  • first or last revenue flight of an airplane
  • last flight of a retiring pilot
  • carrying a fallen soldier

Mostly, it attracts attention and looks cool without costing a huge amount or having anything to clean up.

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Fire Services usually test their equipment weekly. If you give them some notice they will schedule that weeks test to accommodate a special event.

I've seen them hose down the area next to the fire station to please a school trip so I bet its not an issue for them.

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    $\begingroup$ That's interesting, do you have some document to support this claim and make it factual? $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Nov 3, 2017 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ A water salute is a bit more formal than just having fun spraying down a sidewalk. It's usually at an event, and showcases a ceremony of sorts. $\endgroup$
    – SnakeDoc
    Nov 3, 2017 at 15:01

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