Nova Scotia

Shelburne fire department offers showers to residents

The Town of Shelburne Fire department's deputy chief says the move to free up their showers for public use is unprecedented.

Deputy fire chief says move to free up their showers for public use unprecedented

Recent rainfall in Shelburne isn't the only shower offering local residents relief from the region's dry weather.

The local fire department has come to the rescue by offering up its showers to people without water who need a place to wash up. 

The department's deputy chief says some of the station's volunteer members had already been using the facilities after their wells went dry, but the move to free up their showers for public use is unprecedented. 

'First time we've offered this'

"I've been in the fire service for 42 years and this is the first time that we've offered this service," says deputy chief Darrell Locke.

Wednesday was the first night people were invited to drop by with their shower shoes, soap and shampoo in tow. People could also bring containers to fill up with water and bring home.

"We just thought that because we're a helping group that we should offer up our facilities and help people out as best we can," Locke said.

'Can't remember it being this dry'

Mayor Karen Mattatall says it's desperately dry in Shelburne, and a large number of a people in town don't have access to public water. Instead they rely on their own dug or drilled wells. She says it's the people with dug wells who have been struggling. 

Some have been without water for weeks. 

"I'm on a dug well, haven't had a problem myself, but I am hearing from people who are saying that they can't remember it being this dry," she says. "People whose wells have never gone dry, have gone dry this summer."

She says the town has been helping out by allowing residents free access to water from an outside tap at washrooms on the waterfront, and had been looking into options to provide shower services somewhere, when the fire station stepped up. 

Recent rain won't wash away need for showers

Both Mattatal and Locke say despite recent rainfall, people's wells will still be without water. 

"When you consider somebody's well is probably anywhere from 12 to 20 feet deep and the rain has to penetrate the ground and top up the water level before it can start filling folks' wells, even though we did get a little [rain] I don't think it's going to amount to a whole lot in somebody's well," Locke says.

When asked whether the Town of Shelburne Fire Department has enough water to go around without the risk of its well running dry, Locke said the station is on the town water supply system, which is being monitored closely and showing no signs of depletion.

Showers available twice a week

But there is the chance a fire call could come in when someone's mid-shower — and showers aren't far from all the action at the station. Locker rooms are located just off the area where the department keeps its fire department trucks, boats and gear. 

With that in mind, Locke says fire volunteers will be nearby to usher people in the locker room area to a safe spot if a call comes in. The fire department is also asking people to make sure their children are closely supervised when they shower at the facility. 

Showers will be available for use twice this week, on Wednesday and Sunday evening, from 7 p.m. to 9 pm.
Locke says depending on need, the fire department will consider opening up the station on other evenings as well.

About the Author

Katy Parsons

Associate Producer

Katy Parsons has been a journalist with CBC in Nova Scotia for more than 10 years. She's worked on news, current affairs and lifestyle programming. Contact her with story ideas at katy.parsons@cbc.ca.