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Iqaluit's emergency services 'severely compromised' after new fire truck damaged

The City of Iqaluit’s emergency services are “severely compromised” according to its acting fire chief because neither of its ladder trucks are operational, including a brand-new truck that was damaged when it was offloaded from a barge in October.

‘We cannot reach anything that's beyond a 24-foot ground ladder,’ says acting fire chief

Iqaluit's new custom built aerial fire truck pictured before it was shipped to the community. The truck was damaged when it was offloaded in October. (Submitted by City of Iqaluit)

The City of Iqaluit's emergency services are "severely compromised" according to its acting fire chief because neither of its ladder trucks are operational, including a brand-new truck that was damaged when it was offloaded from a barge in October.

The city is now spending more than $30,000 to repair its more than $1 million, custom-built aerial ladder fire truck, and the city's fire services will be without a ladder truck for at least the next six weeks.

The city does have a second ladder truck, but Landis Carmichael says the aerial device on the aging vehicle is not operational and can only be used to pump water at this time.

"Unfortunately, with both ladder trucks down, we don't have a ladder, so we cannot reach anything that's beyond a 24-foot ground ladder, and that severely compromises our response capability to a high rise building or anything beyond 24 feet off the ground," Carmichael told city councillors at a Tuesday council meeting.

The city says the new truck was damaged when Nunavik Eastern Arctic Shipping Inc. (NEAS), a sealift company, transferred it from their barge to the beach in the fall.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed the city is in an insurance claim process with NEAS.

It will take at least six weeks for the repairs to be completed on the new fire truck. (Submitted by City of Iqaluit)

The city's director of corporate services Alison Drummond told council it's unclear how much might be covered, and it might take until June of next year before it finds out.

She urged councillors to approve the $31,592 needed to fix the new fire truck, a process she said will take six weeks to get the equipment and the emergency vehicle technicians into the city to do the repairs.

Old fire tuck needs a new engine

The city was told its second ladder truck, a 1998 vehicle, is also in need of extensive repairs, including a new engine, and would cost $260,000 to fix.

"This is the first time I'm hearing of the ladder truck being down," said Coun. Kyle Sheppard.

Carmichael said technicians assessed it in late-September and the information was passed along to the city's administration.

"It hasn't had good care and upkeep for the life of it so unfortunately, it's starting to cost more in repair, and that's why we're getting this bill all at once," Carmichael said.

Councillors, however, decided not to approve the spending.

"A quarter of a million dollars is something that we're going to need to look at as part of our capital planning for 2022," Sheppard said.

"I don't see how we can approve that today."

Councillors did agree to approve an additional $65,000 needed to fix another fire service vehicle — a pumper truck — in order to make it "100 percent usable," according to Carmichael.

It's not clear yet where the money will come from. Drummond said it would be undetermined until the budgets were done for 2022.

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