Divergent views on fire department needs

  • Wed Apr 20th, 2011 8:00am
  • News

The proposed purchase of a fire truck is a bone of contention between certain parties in the District of Sooke’s municipal complex.

Councillor Herb Haldane feels the transaction is a needless show of extravagance while Fire Chief Steve Sorensen and CAO Evan Parliament see the deal as necessary and timely.

Procedural points are perceived differently by the staff members and the elected council member.

“We’re using a truck that we’ve already retired once before, as a reason for going after $250,000 more for a number four truck,” Haldane said last week.

Further, the councillor cited the likelihood that the retired truck would be sold to the Town of Sidney. He said if it is good enough for Sidney it should be good enough for Sooke.    

Questioned on these and other points, Chief Sorensen declared that the truck in question was not “retired” in 2006, but relegated to second line service.

Many fire department-related decisions are strongly influenced by the Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS) – a means of assessing a community’s fire fighting capability, and thus the insurance rates payable by its residents.

Sorensen pointed out that the FUS actually recommends that front line trucks be replaced every 15 years, but Sooke goes with 20 years. Trucks between 20 and 25 years of age are classed as second line assets.

Unit No. 204, the spare, has apparently come to the end of the line, in Sooke, at least. 

“You can keep it but it has no credit… so it can affect people’s insurance rates,” the chief related.

“Now that the reserve truck is 26 years old, and needs $30,000 worth of work for us to keep it safely on the road, we need to get rid of it.”

As for the point made by Councillor Haldane about a possible deal with the Town of Sidney, the CAO stated,

“A lot of fire departments dispose of their vehicles to other fire departments which can use them for a bunch of different reasons,” said Parliament. “Sometimes they go to different provinces.”

“We’ve got four pumper trucks right now. We’re going to get rid of the fourth truck and get another brand new one.” Haldane said.  

“It’s being officially retired at the end of this year,” said Parliament, as we anticipate to replace it with a newer vehicle in 2012, capped at $250,000.”

Sorensen says two are being considered – a larger used model and a smaller new one.

The CAO indicated the money is in the Fire Department Reserve Fund, part of the 2012 Capital Budget which has received first and second reading and could be adopted in the next couple of weeks.

news@sookenewsmirror.com