Baie Verte fire chief pleads with province for new rescue truck
Lorne Head says without it department might not be able to respond to highway crashes
The fire chief in Baie Verte is calling on the province to pony up for a new rescue truck after the department's second-hand rig bit the dust.
Lorne Head said the vehicle is more than three decades old and has undergone several repairs, but is no longer roadworthy and had to be retired.
"With two mines in the area, a processing mill … our highway is very busy," he said.
"Government needs to step up to the plate."
The rescue truck was used to respond to car crashes and other emergencies. It housed the jaws of life and other similar equipment.
Firefighters have packed the Jaws of Life and a few other items onto a pumper truck, but Head said it's no replacement.
Baie Verte has two pumper trucks, so if one is already dispatched, Head said they couldn't send the other to a highway accident, in case it's also needed at a fire.
"We can't leave the residents of Baie Verte — with the businesses and stuff that's around here — unprotected."
Most calls are for highway help
Fire departments in La Scie and Springdale have agreed to help up with highway calls, but Head is still worried, because those departments are 45 minutes or more away.
"With the winter season, the black ice," he said, "that's coming pretty quick and that puts a real fear on our department."
The chief said 75 per cent of Baie Verte's calls are for incidents out of town, so it's likely the department will have to turn to its neighbours for help.
Another problem: not all the rescue equipment fits aboard a pumper truck, so firefighters have to grab what they think they'll need before they head out on a call.
"The rest of our gear is all placed out on tables so we can see it and get quick access to it."
Local MHA Brian Warr said he lobbied his fellow Liberals for a new vehicle and hopes it will be included in the budget next year.
"Unfortunately it didn't make the short list during the last budget session," he said. "Certainly, it's my job as their MHA to advocate to make sure that unit gets replaced."
Warr said he's asked the Department of Municipal Affairs to find a surplus vehicle that could replace the rescue truck at least until the new year.
"If we can put a unit in place that can hold them over for a few months, you know, until we get into another budget season … that's our intention right now," Warr said.
"I'm advocating as hard as I can."
The old rescue truck, which was purchased from Digby, N.S., nine years ago, is parked in front of the fire hall, plastered with signs that encourage the public to get in touch with the provincial government.
Head said the department never planned to keep the truck as long as they did. It was bought after a 2010 fire destroyed the fire hall and everything in it.
"We had hoped to get a couple years out of it and move on to something a bit newer," he said.
With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning