LAC LA BICHE - The Lac La Biche County Rescue Service has added a new fire truck in the northeastern community.
Last month, a new Fort Garry water tender truck was added to the fleet of emergency equipment. The new emergency vehicle is upgrading decades-old, aging trucks utilized by the local department, said John Kokotilo, the County’s manager of protective services and regional Fire Chief. In total the department "has bought four over the last six years", he added.
“These trucks are very unique as they are multi-purpose, and they’re rated and certified by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)…We’re looking at a 20 to 25-year lifespan for these trucks,” he says, detailing the services and safety they will provide for years to come.
“It carries 2,000 gallons of water… they’re built in a cold climate, by Canadians, so operationally we know that they're very sound,” he says. The water tenders are also equipped with an 80-gallon foam tank to carry agents to support putting out a variety of fires more effectively.
“That foam will extinguish those fires. They have Class A and B pumps on there that mix with the water,” for combustible material and flammable liquids, he explains. “It’s six times more effective… sometimes even more.”
“We have four identical units” with the first unit arriving just over four years ago for Station 1 and three new ones currently housed in the Plamondon, Rich Lake and Hylo firehouses. A different model will be available for the Owl River Fire Hall, he explains.
Department and community need
Coming in at a cost of roughly $350,000 for the new water tender, Kokotilo adds one of the special components is that they can be operated by a single firefighter. And considering the County’s roughly 60-member staff is on-call, the added support to putting out fires quickly with sound equipment is important.
“It would be a little bit different if we had the manpower available at all times, so we have to look at being a paid-on-call, volunteer department and members responding. We have to buy equipment that is going to suit our number of members responding.”
For any fire department member who may be on shift alone during an emergency, Kokotilo says the new truck will allow fires to be extinguished with the vehicle’s single-person operated hose.
“For example, if we had a grass fire on Highway 881… they can spray water all along that ditch and put that fire out by themselves, if need be, so it's very user-friendly.”
Additionally, the water tender comes with more space and features to respond to other emergencies, he adds.
“They have large compartment spaces to hold light rescue gear, hydraulic equipment… the ‘jaws of life’… a folding tank, hoses and attachments,” which will support the department arriving on scene and while waiting for other protective departments to arrive, said Kokotilo.
The regional Fire Chief says the municipality and its citizens have been very supportive of the local fire departments.
“Our Council, our citizens have been very, very supportive. They realize how important emergency services are, how important the fire department is.”
Correction* in the print version of this story that ran in Lakeland This Week on Nov. 15, the article said three new Fort Gary water tenders were bought this year. However, only one was delivered this year and the remaining three were delivered in 2017, 2018 and 2020. We apologize for this error.