‘We need a workhorse and not a Cadillac’
Brooklyn firefighters seeking new pumper tanker to add to fleet
West Hants council is putting the brakes on purchasing another new vehicle for the Brooklyn Fire Department, at least until it has a better understanding of the equipment currently operating within the municipality.
Deputy fire chief Wayne Swinimer and Capt. Brian Barker made a presentation to councillors June 26, requesting a com- mittee be struck to plan for the purchase of a new pumper tanker. Swinimer said
the vehicle would replace Engine 1, the first custom fire engine bought for Brooklyn in 1987, presently housed in the substation in Three Mile Plains.
Swinimer said Brooklyn was looking to right-size its fleet, not upsize or downsize.
“For the safety of our membership and the protection of the citizens of West Hants, I feel that Engine 1 must be retired in 2019 and replaced with a new pumper tanker,” he told councillors.
Council heard that the fire department didn’t believe the existing truck would pass its safety inspection at the end of June as “the body is corroding out and small cracks around doors are appearing.” All black iron pipes need to be replaced on the pumper and the fire pump has not passed a flow test in about five years. It was noted, however, that the truck was refurbished about 15 years ago “with great success.”
Council questioned why this was the first time it was hearing about the dire need to have the vehicle replaced. The chief administrative officer said he had accidentally left the item off of the 20182019 budget documents.
Councillors also shared concerns over spending more money.
“I just want to remind council that we’ve had Substation 2 open for 18 months. This is something I think we should’ve known at the time we opened that. It should have been something we were budgeting for,” said Coun. Kathy Monroe.
Coun. Jennifer Daniels asked if the municipality has completed a fire risk assessment - a report that shows what fire apparatus is needed to efficiently serve the region, and where that equipment should be housed for optimal deployment.
There was a general consensus around the table that council needs to know what items firefighters have available.
$1 million ballpark
After reviewing Swinimer’s presentation, Monroe said she was concerned that Station 2 was becoming a clone of Brooklyn’s main station. The presentation indicated there should be one squad, one pumper/ tanker, one tanker, and one light rescue in each station. Brooklyn’s main station also houses specialized pieces of equipment, such as the 105- foot aerial truck, a medium rehab/ squad unit, a special operations trailer for ice rescue and a RTV/ wildland rescue vehicle.
Monroe said the Three Mile Plains location was never intended to be a standalone fire department.
When asked how much the new pumper tanker would cost, Swinimer said: “I guess the ballpark figure would be $1 million.”
As the municipality is looking to hire a fire services co-ordinator, it was recommended council holds off on purchasing new fire trucks until after the position is filled and a fire risk assessment is completed.
“I know in the past few years, we have spent millions of dollars on equipment. I think it’s time we have someone come in and tell us exactly what we need and how we need it,” said Coun. Randy Hussey.
“We’ve bought expensive trucks in the past. I think this time we need a workhorse and not a Cadillac. We don’t need all the chrome on it that some of the other trucks have when they were purchased,” he continued.
Brooklyn Station 1 currently has one pumper tanker. Warden Abraham Zebian asked if the neighbouring Windsor Fire Department has a pumper tanker. Swinimer, a former member there, said it did.
“If we’re looking at a regional fire service... we need to start figuring out what we have in this whole area and what needs to be where and what needs to be housed where,” Zebain said.
Zebian referenced a report that was prepared by a consultant when the former West Hants council was in the process of setting up its own fire service.
“We have a study that says the aerial truck needs to be at Station 2 so that takes up two bays right there. There’s only room for two more trucks. Either we built it wrong or we’re doing something wrong here. I think we’re making decisions without knowing the full picture,” said Zebian.
The aerial truck was purchased when the former council severed ties with the Windsor Fire Department. The truck cost more than $1.2 million and is presently housed in Brooklyn, not Station 2 in Three Mile Plains.
A previous consultant’s report indicated the aerial ladder truck should be maintained within three kilometres of commercial/industrial areas.
“For council and the efficiency of our tax dollars, we need to get our feet under this correctly,” said Zebian.
“I would like to see somebody come in and tell us what we have and where we need it and how to go forward.”
Martin Laycock, the chief administrative officer for West Hants, said he’s working on developing the fire services co-ordinator position but that role won’t be filled until next year.
“The reality is, we don’t have the budget to hire an individual until next year anyway. There’s nothing we can do until the next fiscal year,” said Laycock.
He also advised council that the Hantsport Fire Department will be coming forward soon with a request for a new truck as “they’ve delayed that over a number of years for budgetary reasons.”
That rescue truck is for Hantsport’s Station 2 site in Southwest Hants and is about two years past due for replacement.