A tip of the hat to Pemberton’s Fire Rescue team

You can joke that the chance to drive a big shiny red truck is what really inspires a person to become a firefighter. Any parent knows the power that bright machine exerts on a kids’ imagination…

But a fully equipped rescue truck is no joke if you’ve ever been in a motor vehicle accident and needed the expertise and rapid response of the Fire Rescue team. That’s one reason the Pemberton Fire Department’s newest purchase is good news for the community. The other is that, by identifying the need to Council in advance, the Village of Pemberton was able to set aside reserves and make the purchase with cash.

We chatted to Fire Chief Mack early this month as he was preparing for the Winterfest weekend, to find out if a new truck is truly the way to a firefighter’s heart.

 Tell me about the new fire truck?

It’s a rescue truck. It’s the first new rescue truck the department has ever owned. All the others have been ‘home-made’, so to speak. We’d acquire a used cab and chassis from TELUS or BC Hydro. This truck is complete custom built rescue truck, outfitted with extraction equipment, first aid, air packs. It will respond to all calls, but it will be the truck that goes out to respond to first aid or motor vehicle calls, which represent probably 50% of our calls. It will respond to pretty much everything, all the fire calls too, beause it’s got all the equipment you need for rescue, for fires, plus it gets the manpower there.

How much was it?

It was $150,000. We had budgeted $200,000. It worked out really well with our supplier. We paid about $12,000 in taxes and we get about 80% of that back, so it probably will cost $142,000 in the end. And the extra money will be good to go forward for the new truck.

Why was it needed?

Three years ago we started talking about it because the truck, a donated BC Hydro cab and chassis was a 1993 model, so it was coming up to 20 years old, and those vehicles get a lot of miles on them, they respond to a lot of calls.  They’re hardworking machines. So we identified three years ago that we would need to replace it. I brought it up with Council and they were very supportive. And we’d started give years ago putting reserves aside, and in earnest three years ago, specifically for buying new equipment. And that’s a great thing, because we paid cash for it. So the taxpayers won’t end up paying double by the time it’s paid off.

In 2015, we will need a new pumper truck, because they’re only rated by the insurance company for 20 years. So we can start building reserves for that now.

So, what is the Fire Department’s current fleet?

We have five pieces of equipment, plus the rescue boat, the Zodiac. We have 2 pumper trucks, a compressed air foam truck (that goes out to motor vehicle accidents and is a quick attack truck for structural fires), a ladder truck and the rescue truck.

How many people currently serve in the Fire Department?

The crew is made up of 29 guys and girls, and they’re all volunteers. I’d say we have a really dedicated core of 12-14.  We have a bunch of applications we’re going through and shortlisting right now, and we’ll do so me interviews and towards the middle or end of February, we’ll start a new training program for new recruits, once a week for three months.

Why do people get involved?

Oh, I think it’s to be part of an organistion, to give something back to the community and the excitement of being involved.

What’s the core business of the Pemberton Fire Department?

Our mandate is to respond to local emergencies. Motor vehicle accidents, medical assists to EHS and fire calls is pretty much our core business.

The rescue truck serves all of Pemberton and Area C.

The fire district is the area approved by council and the regional district that gets fire protection – the regional district contracts services from the Village to provide fire protection.

Apart from responding to fires, what do the Fire Department members do? 

We’re involved in pretty much anything we’re asked to be involved with. The taxpayers provide the money for the department to exist, so if we can help out, we do. We help out with the July 1 Canada Day parade, Remembrance Day, Winterfest. We do the BBQ at the Council’s AGM, and BBQ and hot chocolate and host the PAWS’ Santa Claus doggy event… Anyway we can, we do.

What is the connection between the Pemberton Fire Department and BBQs? You guys are always cooking up the meat for Canada Day or the AGM or Polar Bear Plunge?

Yeah, it’s all about fire.


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