Fire equipment for food bank boost, as 2 N.L. towns help each other out

The growing department in Conception Bay South gifted the tiny town with 14 compressed air tanks, so they wanted to return the favour.

Donation of tanks give Riverhead much-needed air and savings

Riverhead, near St. Mary's Bay, has a training ground for its firefighters. The set of oxygen tanks recently donated by Conception Bay South will be put to good use there. (Submitted)

Riverhead Mayor Sheila Lee knows there's an unrelenting demand on the provincial government to pay for things it simply cannot afford.

That's why she's glad her town didn't need provincial taxpayers to get a new set of compressed air tanks for its volunteer fire department — because Conception Bay South stepped up with a donation.

"It's a great moral support for us to see a bigger fire department reaching out and partnering with a smaller one," she said. "We're the little fish in the ocean."

Riverhead Mayor Sheila Lee says the donation saved her town thousands of dollars. (CBC)

The C.B.S. department recently upgraded to a bigger, lighter set of tanks used for breathing inside smokey buildings. The upgrade came around the same time Riverhead, near St. Mary's Bay, learned its tanks failed inspection.

To buy new tanks would cost between $800 and $1,000 each. The town didn't have the money in its budget, and didn't want to have to rely on the province for help.

Building partnerships to save money

So in stepped the C.B.S. department, and the town's mayor, Terry French.

"We're all paying taxes and we're all paying into the one pot and these are little things we can do as municipalities where we don't need the province's chequebook behind us," French said.

Conception Bay South Mayor Terry French says he's all about teamwork between different towns and regions. (CBC)

French, who runs the second-largest municipality in the province, said he tries to make connections with other mayors everywhere he goes in hopes of finding ways they can help each other.

"I think we've got to reach out and do more of this stuff, whether that's planning our highways or other things like recreational services," he said. "Regional co-operation is very, very important and we can do it without losing our own identities."

Donations made to food bank

This is the second time C.B.S. has made a donation of used equipment to a community along the Irish Loop, with the other one being in St. Shott's.

In both instances, the towns returned the favour with a donation to the local food bank.

"For us, it was about giving," he said. "Of course in the true Newfoundland fashion, they wanted to give something to us."

The Riverhead volunteer department was in need of some new equipment, but didn't have the money to buy it. (Submitted)

Combined, Riverhead and St. Shott's have donated $1,500 to the food bank.

"It's wonderful to know that C.B.S. has a food bank, I mean God love them," Lee said. "It's one of the most vital services you can offer to your residents. So we wanted to help them and say thank you in a special way."

As for teamwork between municipalities, Lee said they will try to do more through partnerships in years to come, with hopes of cutting costs for the town and taxes for its citizens as rural populations dwindle.

"We can't do this on our own. We can only do this with partnerships now."

Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Carolyn Stokes and Rod Etheridge

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