Nova Scotia

No space and no showers — firefighter calls for renos to fire department

The Mahone Bay Fire Department is so crammed with gear firefighters have to do some of their work outside.

Fire department is crammed with gear including 3 pumper trunks, a tanker truck and a rescue boat

Councillor and firefighter Richard Nowe said the nature of being a firefighter has changed over the decades, with crews responding to car accidents, medical emergencies and water rescues. (Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters)

A longtime firefighter and current Mahone Bay councillor says the town needs an updated fire station.

Richard Nowe has been with the Mahone Bay Fire Department for 44 years and said there is no shower facility in Kinburn Street building.

"We're carrying those contaminants into our own residences when we go home now and it's on us," Nowe told CBC Radio's Mainstreet during an interview on Tuesday.

Fentanyl concerns

Nowe said the need for a larger space and showers is especially critical now that fentanyl is in Nova Scotia.

Even the smallest amount of the powerful opioid can put first responders like firefighters at risk because it can be absorbed through skin through incidental contact or airborne particles.

"The facilities would help because we would have showers to clean ourselves up … when we get back to the base before we get home," he said.

Firefighters do more than respond to fires

The nature of being a firefighter has changed over the decades, Nowe said, with crews responding to car accidents, medical emergencies and water rescues.

"In our department, we don't have enough space. Everything has changed since the hall was built," said Nowe.

"Back then, like I say, we dealt basically with fires and it required the two to three vehicles. Nowadays with all the other things we have, we have specialized equipment that we have to carry, so we have more."

Among that arsenal of equipment are : three pumper trucks, a tanker, a rescue truck and a rescue boat. Nowe said all of it is kept in the garage, in "the space we haven't got."

Hopes for new station in 3 years

Tight quarters are even more unpleasant during the winter months when crews need to spend time outdoors to do some of their regular maintenance. After every fire, the hoses need to be cleaned before they go back on the fire truck. With no room inside the building, firefighters are forced to do that work outside.  

Nowe said he would like to have a new station in the next three years through an infrastructure program with the provincial government or the federal government.

He said firefighters will also be fundraising for a new space through its biweekly bingo games and the and once a month cosmic bingos.

With files from CBC Radio's Mainstreet

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