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Donated fire truck will help train remote First Nations departments across B.C.

Former Esquimalt truck to be used to build skills, enable better community protection

A donation on Tuesday will help better prepare First Nation fire departments across the province.

The Esquimalt fire department gave a Mack engine to the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society, which will use the truck to deliver and enhance fire response training across B.C.

“I’m just grinning ear to ear,” said Dean Colthorp, the society’s manager of corporate and fire services. “When we get a donation like this where we know that we’re going to see some benefit for our communities that we serve … it’s a great day.”

Esquimalt Fire Chief Steve Serbic said it was awesome for the department to be involved in the donation, which will help small, remote and northern First Nation communities be better prepared.

“One of the coolest things about donating this truck is it’s going to go around to all these communities and actually (be used to) show them, give them hands-on skills, on how to prepare and how to protect their communities,” he said. “It’s just one truck, but it can make such a difference.”

The Mack engine was received by the Esquimalt department fire since 1988 and was last used by the department as a training truck. “They’re incredible vehicles, they last forever,” Serbic said.

While newer trucks have modernized some manual operations in firefighting, the pressure gauge systems in trucks haven’t changed much in the last 100 years, noted Reo Jerome, the society’s fire services officer.

Added Colthorp: “It’s an older model, but it allows you to understand the mechanism of the pump a little bit better. This one allows you to really master your skills as a pump operator, as well as a driver.”

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B.C. has about 70 Indigenous fire services, each with about 10 to 15 members. With constant turnover in volunteer squads, training is always needed.

“It’s a great benefit,” Colthorp said of the truck. “You can’t even put a dollar value to it quite honestly, it is something that’s going to be used and worked hard.”

The truck may be used to provide basic training, but Serbic said any knowledge and know-how can be crucial in emergency scenarios, such as when a fast-approaching wildfire is on its way.

“When you’re in a small or remote community and you do not have the support of a larger department, or infrastructure where people can come help you, it’s super important to understand what (you) need to do,” he said.

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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