New fire truck for Little Bay area will be 'game changer,' says fire chief
Pumper truck means 'time factor is cut by a long shot,' says Steve Walker
Volunteers firefighters in the small town of Little Bay are thrilled with a new fire truck that will make all the difference when responding to calls.
The chief of the Little Bay and Area Volunteer Fire Department, which covers Little Bay, Beachside, Coffee Cove and St. Patrick's, said it's "phenomenal" to be able to provide better service to the communities.
"It's a big game-changer for us," Steve Walker told CBC News on Friday.
Until last fall, the fire department was using a rickety '83 Chevrolet pickup as its fire truck. That truck was deemed unreliable or safe enough to transport volunteers to calls, and it was retired last year.
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro donated a pickup truck for service in the interim, as the department waited for money to buy an actual pumper truck.
The pumper truck they purchased is 17 years old but in perfect condition, Walker said, and without fundraising and government money, they never would have been able to afford it.
Little Bay hosted a Chase the Ace fundraiser last year to raise money to help cover the cost of a new truck, while awaiting funding from the provincial government to cover most of the cost — a bill the small community would not have been able to foot.
"The biggest game-changer, I'll say, was in the spring we received news that we got $100,000 on a 90-10 basis from the government, which allowed us to get a much newer truck, because … even used fire trucks are astronomical in price," he told CBC Newfoundland Morning.
While the pumper isn't in action just yet — the department is waiting for the vehicle's registration to be approved next week — Walker said it will make a huge difference in how the department responds to fire calls.
"With the pumper truck we can roll up on a fire scene and have water available right away. What we're used to is finding a water source, getting our portable pumps out, straighten hoses from the water source to the fire. So I mean it's like day and night when it comes to fighting fires," he said.
"It's tremendous.… The time factor is cut by a long shot. We can do more immediate fire fighting."
Walker said 10 of the town's volunteer firefighters went to Springdale last year to get training on their pumper truck, and members are hoping to put those skills to use — with a little refresher.
"They're excited, but in saying that, I mean, the training now is going to be even more intense, because we have new equipment to learn how to use," Walker said.
"That being said, that was a year ago, so we haven't had nothing to train on since that time. But the training officer in Springdale and through FES [fire and emergency services] training, they will make us familiar with the truck and we'll be able to use it like a second nature."
In celebration, the department will hold a motorcade through the four communities it serves at 11 a.m. on Oct. 31, with refreshments and food to follow at the fire hall.
With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning