Lab City fire chief says ladder truck needed

Labrador City fire Chief Joe Power says a ladder truck would make life safer and easier for firefighters battling blazes in buildings that are getting taller in the region.
The five-storey Embassy Apartments building in Labrador City is just one example of why the local fire chief says the region needs a fire ladder truck sooner, rather than later. (CBC)

Surrounded by iron ore deposits, the towns of Wabush and Labrador City have little choice but to grow up, instead of out.

But that's creating concern for firefighters, who say they don't have the best equipment to fight blazes in the taller buildings that are going up in western Labrador.

Specifically, they point to the lack of a ladder truck to attack fires from above a structure, instead of fighting them from a roof that could collapse at any second.

Labrador City fire Chief Joe Power is pushing for a fire ladder truck to service the Labrador West region. (CBC)
It was an issue flagged by Labrador City fire Chief Joe Power in the wake of a devastating blaze in November 2012 which destroyed a four-storey apartment building that was under construction and nearly complete.

While no one was hurt, the sudden loss of more than 100 potential apartments was a big blow for a region that continues to experience a severe housing crunch.

At the time, Power commended the combined efforts of volunteer firefighters from Labrador City and Wabush, as well as local mining companies.

But he was certain then, and now, that a ladder truck would've make a big difference.

He hopes one arrives soon.

"It's not out of the question. We're hoping down the road to acquire one, either through regionalization of fire services or we'll have to look at some other means of getting one," Power said.

Weighing options

Wabush and Labrador City are exploring their options through a study that's expected to cost about $100,000. It will look at a combined, regional model for western Labrador fire and emergency services. It could also include a partnership with area mining companies.

Labrador West does have an agreement in place with the Iron Ore Company of Canada for access to "Big Red," IOC's huge OshKosh fire truck which can be called on for major fires, but it's not always available on demand.

Power says a ladder truck would also be useful for regular calls.

"There's lots of other reasons," he said. "Communities outside use them for bungalow fires. Firefighters don't have to get on the roof. They can work from the platforms of ladder trucks and be much safer."