Christina Lake fire dept. overestimates truck cost

The fire department at Christina Lake has purchased a new fire engine, which will cost much less than originally anticipated.

Christina Lake Fire Chief Ken Gresley-Jones.

Christina Lake’s fire department has purchased a new fire engine and it will cost much less than originally anticipated.

While Christina Lake Fire Chief Ken Gresley-Jones estimated that the new vehicle would cost $350,000 at a meeting last September, he said last week that the price tag of the actual engine purchased would be in the neighbourhood of $307,000.

“Our budget was $350,000 and the tender that we put out, I believe we accepted $307,000,” Gresley-Jones said.

“There have been a few adjustments to that figure, so it will come in at less than ($307,000).”

The successful proponent is Abbotsford B.C.’s Safetek Emergency Vehicles, Ltd. and the new truck is a combination of a fire engine and rescue vehicle and Gresley-Jones estimated that the fire department should have the new fire engine within the first quarter of 2012.

Christina Lake’s fire chief said that the vehicle will hold approximately 2,460 litres of water and its pumping capacity is around 3,975 litres a minute.

“It’s consistent with what we have now and its what we need to have for the basic requirements,” Gresley-Jones said.

“It will not carry as much water (as the previous engine) and have more room for auto extraction equipment, the Jaws of Life, the cribbing and all of the other things that we use if there’s a motor vehicle accident where we have to cut the thing apart or take it apart to get at people.”

And while a new engine is on the way, Gresley-Jones said that the Christina Lake fire department would

continue to use the old fire engine, even after the new one arrives.

“The thing is, the engine that is being replaced, there’s nothing wrong with it. It will still meet the needs of the community for a fire engine.”

Gresley-Jones said that the Christina Lake fire department’s fleet consists of a mini pumper, a Class A pumper (the one being replaced), a rescue vehicle, 6,435-litre tanker truck, a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle, a command vehicle/pickup truck for the fire chief, as well as a 1975 Dodge engine.

This, he says, will be taken out and either donated to a third world country or a small community that can use it.

The purchasing of the new fire engine has been a point of contention for both the department and with local politicians, seeing as the current pumper is in perfect working condition – the insurance underwriters no longer recognized the current fire engine, which meant that a new one had to be purchased.

A new Class A pumper has to be purchased every 20 years and with the current Class A vehicle creeping up on 20 years, the purchase is being made now.

“We’re forced into buying fire trucks,” explained RDKB Area C Director Grace McGregor.

“We’re not buying them because we think its fun or because we like to ride them. We’re borrowing and buying them because we’re forced to through the insurance companies.”

She said that it was a really big issue for small communities.

“When residents start picking up those kind of tabs for stuff, especially when you look at a truck that is perfectly good. You’re allowed to have it re-fitted or tested once around and then you can’t do that anymore and quite frankly, it doesn’t fly very well,” McGregor said.

“I don’t think there’s a rural director out there that’s happy with that rule and hasn’t made that known.”

Christina Lake residents won’t feel too much of a financial pinch however as both Gresley-Jones and McGregor estimated that tax increases would be very minimal.

“What we’ve done is financed it over a period of 15 years. The amount that is actually going to come out of people’s pocket is probably not going to be noticeable,” Gresley-Jones said.

“All in all, (residents) are not looking at a difference on their tax bill. If there are increases, it’s very, very little,” said McGregor.