OUR VIEW: Christina Lake shouldn’t be forced to buy engine

The problem for the fire department is that the current vehicle is about 20-years old and no longer recognized by the insurance underwriters and thus, the new vehicle has to be purchased.

It’s a good news, bad news scenario.

On one hand, the Christina Lake fire department’s new fire engine – which is expected to arrive sometime in early-2012 – won’t cost the originally anticipated $350,000, it will cost much less as it will cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of $307,000.

On the other hand, the department said that the purchase wasn’t even necessary as the current fire engine is still in good condition, as the engine has been regularly maintained.

The problem is that the current vehicle is about 20-years old and no longer recognized by the insurance underwriters and thus, the new vehicle has to be purchased.

Insurance regulations dictate that fire departments have to replace Class A pumpers every 20 years and while the Christina Lake fire department has a number of fire engines in its fleet, Ken Gresley-Jones, the department’s fire chief, says that the department is rated for only the Class A truck, as far as the insurance underwriters are concerned.

RDKB Area C Director Grace McGregor says that a fire engine can be refitted and tested only once.

The department could, technically, still use the current Class A truck but at a meeting last September, Gresley-Jones said that residents of the lake could multiply their current house insurance rates by four if the status quo were maintained in terms of the department’s fire engine.

The issue is said to be a thorn in the side of politicians in rural communities because it means that they have to spend money on something that may not be necessary.

Some politicians in the surrounding area have tried to talk to the province about the issue for some time but they say that no one on the provincial level seems to want to take the initiative.

While tax increases for residents are said to be minimal, Christina Lake still had to borrow money to pay for the fire truck.

The cost of the new fire engine is significantly less than the original estimate but I’m sure Christina Lake could’ve found a better way to spend the $307,000-something that the new truck will cost.

Buying a fire truck because you need to buy a fire truck is one thing but buying a fire truck because the insurance underwriters won’t recognize a perfectly good fire truck is something else.

There needs to be change in this regard.

– The Grand Forks Gazette