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It is a welcome addition to the High Level Fire Department family, and perfectly suited to life in the north.
On Tuesday, March 17, HLFD celebrated the arrival of Engine 2 to High Level with a viewing of the new truck and a dinner. The vehicle replaces an older fire truck that had ongoing mechanical issues, as well as an apparatus that was on lease from Northern Sunrise County that was acting as a stopgap.
HLFD was leasing an apparatus from Northern Sunrise County, but the truck was returned following last year’s Wildfire season. Council authorized a replacement knowing there was a need to replace the vehicle.
That truck came from Acres Emergency Vehicles, a fire truck manufacturer out of Wawanesa, Manitoba. The trucks are sold exclusively through Sea Hawk Service now.
“They built the truck in six months,” said Rodney Schmidt, Director of Protective Services and Fire Chief. “Usually it takes a year to build a truck, so they were excellent in terms of quick delivery.”
The truck was built to specific design needs for HLFD and designed for Wildland Urban Interface.
“The fire conditions we faced last year during the Chuckegg Creek Wildfire are what this truck is designed for,” Schmidt said.
The vehicle has the ability to pump and roll – that is, the ability to move while supplying water. It has a number of features that allow it to target structure fires, with added features for tackling wildland fires – including a built-in sprinkler system.
“If they are defending homes and something goes wrong, or the fire comes over top of them, they can protect themselves in the truck. It’s one of very few trucks in the province that has that capability.
“It’s also four-wheel drive. It’s designed for very rugged fire conditions.”
While there were a number of needs identified during the design phase of Engine 2. But Schmidt also said many lessons were learned fighting the Chuckegg Creek Wildfire last year.
“We took a lot of those lessons we learned and applied them to this truck,” he said.
“It’s got a few different options you don’t find on other trucks,” he said. “They are inexpensive options, but they are little things that make things easier when we are working in that Wildland Urban Interface environment.”
“Now we just need to get out and use it, and train with it before wildland season hits.”
Schmidt also noted the importance of having equipment that is up-to-date, in good mechanical condition, and built to meet the needs of local hazards. The simple fact is these days, a fire truck is no longer just a fire truck. Most are specialized for particular jobs and purposes.
“We’re a fire department that is isolated,” said Schmidt. “We don’t have close-by help. We need trucks that fits different hazards, and this truck is there for that reason.
“Council has been amazingly supportive of the fire department over the years, and when we brought this to them, they immediately understood the need for it. When we showed them the capabilities about what this truck can do, it was a no-brainer.
“Kudos go to Council for continuing to have the foresight to continually allow us to upgrade our equipment.”