Long wait pays off

New aerial lad­der fire truck rolls into Car­bon­ear


The Car­bon­ear Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment’s long wait for a new aerial lad­der fire truck ended Jan. 15 when a new Sut­phen 100 tan­dem aerial lad­der cruised into town with a ca­co­phy of horns blar­ing and lights flash­ing.

While other cities have aerial lad­der trucks, the new quin­tu­ple com­bi­na­tion pumper (quint) which rolled into Car­bon­ear ear­lier this month is the only make and model of its kind in the prov­ince.

Quint means the ve­hi­cle can per­form five func­tions — aerial lad­der, pumper, wa­ter tank, fire hose and ground lad­ders.

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment is pro­vid­ing 80 per cent of the cost of the $837,000 truck, while the Car­bon­ear town coun­cil is re­spon­si­ble for the re­main­ing 20 per cent, or $167,000.

Shortly af­ter noon, the new ve­hi­cle pulled onto the park­ing lot of the Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal with fire­fighter Brent Sweeney at the wheel. Sweeney was one of seven fire­fight­ers, in­clud­ing Chief Ed. Ka­vanagh, who had been in St. John’s for three days of train­ing prior to bring­ing it around the bay.

A mo­tor­cade formed up on the hos­pi­tal park­ing lot and made its way through town. It ended at the Con­cep­tion Bay Re­gional Com­mu­nity Cen­tre where Ka­vanagh ex­tended the 100-foot lad­der over the park­ing lot.

Ka­vanagh is the lat­est of six fire chiefs who have been lob­by­ing for a new aerial lad­der truck over the past 16 years. For­mer chiefs Randy Butt, Fred Earle, Scott Thomas, Tom Craw­ford and Ron Gar­land had also lob­bied a suc­ces­sion of mu­nic­i­pal and pro­vin­cial ad­min­is­tra­tions for the equip­ment.

In Au­gust, the fire depart­ment fi­nally re­ceived word from the pro­vin­cial govern­ment that they were among 11 de­part­ments in the prov­ince to get fund­ing ap­proval un­der the Fire Pro­tec­tion In­fra­struc­ture Pro­gram.

Mem­o­ries stirred

The ve­hi­cle re­places a 1978 Amer­i­can LaFrance model, which has been in­op­er­a­ble for about 16 years.

As he watched the new truck ar­rive, Art Thomas, 81, was re­minded of the spring day in 1978 when he and the late Clif­ford Pike ar­rived in Car­bon­ear with the town’s first aerial lad­der truck af­ter a five-day drive from Elmira, New York.

Thomas, who served 10 years as fire chief in the 1970s and ‘80s, and Pike brought the truck home af­ter spend­ing a week tour­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing plant and train­ing on the ve­hi­cle.

He re­called pre­sent­ing the com­pany with a cheque for $115,000. At that time the equip­ment was fi­nanced through a 50-50 cost-shar­ing agree­ment be­tween the depart­ment and the prov­ince. Pike had spear­headed the depart­ment’s twoyear fundrais­ing drive.

Thomas said, “it’s too bad Cliff wasn’t around to see this day.”

“It was long over­due, but it was worth the wait,” Chief Ka­vanagh said. “It’s one fan­tas­tic and ex­cep­tional truck.”

He added: “It brings Car­bon­ear well into the 21st cen­tury in terms of fire­fight­ing equip­ment and ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

Be­sides re­plac­ing the older aerial lad­der truck, which will be sold, the new truck will also re­place the depart­ment’s 1983 No. 2 pumper. Ka­vanagh said the ‘83 pumper has an­other year or so left in its life­span.

Great day

“It’s a great day for the Car­bon­ear Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment,” Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy said, af­ter hand­ing the keys to the ve­hi­cle to mayor Sam Slade, who in turn handed them on to Ka­vanagh.

Kennedy was in­stru­men­tal in se­cur­ing the prov­ince’s share of fund­ing, and de­scribed the event as “a sign of the fire depart­ment’s com­mit­ment and a recog­ni­tion of their work.”

The spe­cial­ized equip­ment is needed to pro­tect fa­cil­i­ties like the eight-story hos­pi­tal, the re­gion’s tallest build­ing, the new long-term care fa­cil­ity to be built ad­ja­cent to the hos­pi­tal, and the new pri­mary- ele­men­tary school go­ing up on Val­ley Road.

Af­ter watch­ing the demon­stra­tion, Kennedy sug­gested an added bonus is that this equip­ment can be used for fire­fight­ing on a re­gional ba­sis. He said it’s lad­der can reach in over build­ings, mak­ing it help­ful when the depart­ment is called upon by neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

Mayor Slade agreed, de­scrib­ing the truck as “re­gional ne­ces­sity,” de­spite the fact Car­bon­ear is pay­ing the mu­nic­i­pal share.

The old aerial lad­der truck had been used to help fight fires in Heart’s Con­tent, Har­bour Grace and Bay Roberts.

Slade gave full credit to Kennedy for his ef­forts in get­ting fi­nan­cial ap­proval for the truck, say­ing he “worked very, very hard” on be­half of the town and the fire depart­ment.

“ There is no way in the world we would have got­ten it with­out the min­is­ter’s help,” Slade said.

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