TEHKUMMAH – The Tehkummah Volunteer Fire Department is better prepared than ever to fight fires within the municipality following the additions over the past several months of two fire trucks that help to bring the township’s firefighting water supply to nearly 16,000 litres.
“Thanks to the support of our council and the generosity of the people of Tehkummah, we have come a long ways to building a strong, well-equipped fire department that can help to protect our local community,” Tehkummah Fire Chief Jeff Wilson told The Expositor.
Followers of the council meeting minutes in this newspaper will recall that the township has been trying to modernize its fleet for years without success. This was sparked after a report found the township would have to pay $15,000 to rebuild the pump on one of its older trucks.
Mr. Wilson had been repeatedly bidding on used trucks on auction sites but they always ended up exceeding the township’s budget and he would have to abandon the bids.
The pressure was mounting. The Fire Underwriters Survey, which prepares insurance ratings on fire vehicles across Canada, does not recognize trucks that are more than 30 years old. Both the township’s front-line pumper and front-line tanker trucks had exceeded that age.
However, word of Mr. Wilson’s problem and his persistence in dealing with it soon circulated widely. He began to receive offers from several places who said he could take on their older trucks as they upgraded. Eventually, one that made sense for Tehkummah came available.
“I got a message that the Township of Tiny had just taken delivery of a new truck from Fort Gary Fire Trucks in Winnipeg, and they were willing to sell us their old 1998 Ford pumper for a very reasonable price,” said Mr. Wilson.
The old saying of “when it rains, it pours” appears to correlate with water-carrying trucks as well as its original reference to water-bearing clouds. Only a week before the offer from Tiny, Mr. Wilson became the winning bidder on a 1999 Freightliner tanker truck at auction.
“We were able to replace both the truck that needed expensive repairs as well as an older truck that needed to be replaced because of its age,” said Mr. Wilson.
It was a significant milestone for an essential municipal service in Tehkummah, a township that is in a major rebuilding phase to modernize its infrastructure and reduce taxpayer costs in the long-term after the costs of these needed upgrades are paid for.
“With the upgrades, both of our front-line trucks are under 30 years old. With our four trucks, we have 4,200 gallons of water sitting in our fire hall ready to respond to fires,” said Mr. Wilson.
The final costs to get both trucks on the road was a little over $70,000, but when considering the repair costs of the old trucks would have been $15,000 and would have left the township with trucks that remained older than the acceptable 30-year age limit, township officials said the purchases were a step in the right direction for a sustainable fire service for years to come.