Stewiacke fire

Lt. Brandon Verboom drives a fire truck. The fire department in Stewiacke will drive home anyone who has had too much to drink. (CBC)

It's one of the toughest parts of the job — firefighters called to crash scenes, with people injured or even dead, all because someone decided to drive drunk.

In Stewiacke they’re trying to change that. For the fourth year, the fire department in the Nova Scotia town is giving rides home to people who have had a few drinks and shouldn't be driving.

The best part? Inebriated adults can live out childhood dreams of riding in a big red fire truck.

It’s all part of an effort to prevent drinking and driving crashes the fire department is called to, much too often.

"If an accident does happen, we can respond," said Lt. Brandon Verboom, a firefighter with the Stewiacke and District Volunteer Fire Department.

"But we're trying to have more of a prevention program now."

The program started Friday night and runs until Jan. 1. It has proved so popular in recent years, the fire department drives home about 90 people over the holiday season. The service is only available to people living within the district.

Verboom said he believes it has prevented deaths and serious injuries on Stewiacke roads. Firefighters have been to bars where patrons were about to get into their cars, but instead rode home in the fire truck.

There’s been one hitch, however. Some people are calling up and asking for rides to the bar. The fire department will still take them, but reluctantly.

"We’ve had some issues in the past … of people abusing it as a taxi service," Verboom said. "We’re trying to get people home and not necessarily to the bars."