Hamilton

Fire department wants specialized all-terrain vehicle for emergencies along trails

Chief David Cunliffe says they're looking for a utility vehicle similar to a John Deere Gator, which would have a small water tank and hose line on the back and could be used to transport patients out of backwoods areas.

Firefighters are currently using portable tanks and hoses to put out fires

Rope rescues use a lot of resources and require specialized equipment and training. (Dave Ritchie/CBC)

Fire officials in Hamilton are looking at purchasing a specialized all-terrain vehicle to help crews respond to fires and emergencies along the area's busy trails.

Chief David Cunliffe says they're looking for a utility vehicle similar to a John Deere Gator, which would have a small water tank and hose line on the back and could be used to transport patients out of backwoods areas. 

"What we're finding is that because the usage of the trail system is growing we're starting to see that we have the need for fire suppression capability and we also have the need for assistance from a medical, patient extraction perspective," he said following a recent Emergency and Community Services Committee meeting. No costing was presented.

Recent years have seen firefighters make dozens of rope rescues near city waterfalls as hikers stray from the trail, too close to the escapement's edge and end up in danger.

A 24-year-old was killed last month after he slipped at Dundas Peak and fell to his death.

The fire department currently uses senior officer's vehicles, Ford Expedition SUVs, to take firefighters to emergency scenes along trails or to transport people out of the bush.

Fighting fires far from hydrants also comes with complications, according to the chief.

"Right now if we have a fire on a trail it's very manual," Cunliffe explained. "They're bringing portable water tanks and hose because of the nature of where these incidents typically happen we can't get close with a larger vehicle. They also use brooms and shovels."

The chief says some sort of trail vehicle would be safer for firefighters and allow them to respond to emergencies more effectively.