Over 60 people gathered around for the erection of the sign to go on the land the Erris volunteer fire department has secured. This step alone was huge. The one hectare tract of land at 2254 Princeton Summerland Road will be the centre for the areas fire protection A fire hall will be constructed and hopefully, before long, at least two trucks will fill the bays. “This turned out to be the only spot of Crown Land along this stretch of road,” said President Ron Smith. An application was sent in to the government, so that the Erris Fire Department would have somewhere to build their new fire hall on and then the 60 plus supporters had to sit back and wait. “The waiting game is the worst part of this,” stated Smith, “but we feel like we are moving ahead quite quickly thanks to some advice from the Bankeir crew further out this way. They have gone through this process already and it took them ten years. We are hoping to get there much faster.”
Sandi Lawlor is the head of the fundraising committee. “She is the “give me the money” lady,” said Smith with a smile. The volunteer group is hoping to scrounge up some grant monies now that they have secured a location. Lyslie Remme the treasurer, Jeanetta Gerard, Nancy Gibson, Mauro Sepe, Wayne and Chris Rothe and Rick Boehmare are all part of the ambitious group. Wayne is head of the building committee. “We have one hundred per cent community involvement,” added a proud Smith.
From 1200 Princeton Summerland Road to the Bankeir sign there are approximately 140 residents who right now are not under any sort of fire protection, but all that is about to change. Now that the fire crew has land they need a truck or do they? Thanks to the Anarchist Mountain Fire Hall, the Erris Crew already has one. The Anarchist Mountain Fire Department donated their old well-maintained fire truck to the Erris crew. “We are just thrilled,” said Smith. “This truck is in really good shape. It runs well and gives us a big boost towards being able to protect our homes in the case of a fire.”
Rick Boehm is the Fire Chief. He is going to be training all the volunteers to be fire fighting ready. “Rick will be training everyone who will be using this thing,” Smith stated. The converted Pepsi truck might not be the most conventional fire truck in the world, but to this volunteer crew it is a life line to fire protection.
Once the crew is trained, they will not just be responding to fires either. “We will be able to go out to calls as First Responders,” said Smith. “In any case where someone has been injured or had a heart attack or some type of medical emergency, we will be the closest emergency response team.
“We have a great community,” added Remme. While many of the residents along this stretch of road attended the sign erection, they did so with great hope. They are waiting for surveys to be completed which need money to do. Then they need a well, a First Response truck, another pumper truck and a list of fire fighting equipment. The fire hall needs to be built too. It is a long list, but one the many attendees are more than willing to tackle. “We want to do this right the first time,” said contractor Wayne Rothe. “The whole thing hinges on money right now.”
Area H Regional Director Brad Hope made the trip out the Princeton Summerland Road for the celebration and was impressed. “I think this is absolutely wonderful how far this group has already come. Eighteen months ago, this group was talking about whether or not it would be possible to get a fire hall out here. It is really nice to see what can be accomplished when a community pulls together. If a community wants to work together, they get things done. This Erris crew is a great example of that.
From an idea to land and a truck, the Erris volunteers are definitely on the right track to having a full blown fire hall, complete with a siren or two. Their dedication is inspiring. “Brad had been so helpful in directing us,” added Smith. “He is the only source of financial aid thus far.” WIth little money as of yet, the volunteers have done well. When the money starts flowing in, there will be no stopping them. “We will have a fire hall,” said Rothe. This positive force is driving the whole group forward and one day soon, the fire crew will have somewhere to park their truck.