Cumberland Fire Rescue found itself down a vehicle recently.
At the Aug. 8, fire chief Mike Williamson appeared with an urgent request to council for the money to cover the cost of a replacement ‘bush truck.’
The truck in question is a 2003 Ford F250 crew cab, which the deputy chief had used for day-to-day travelling, for work such as fire inspections, fire prevention programs, investigations and training.
The vehicle also provided the department access for difficult-to-reach locations. It was equipped with a 150-gallon water and foam tank and a pump so firefighters could respond in wildfire season or put out small campfires when bans are in place.
However, the old truck had been showing its age, specifically some signs of rust.
“We knew about the problem with it, but we felt we could make it last,” Williamson told council.
During a recent medical call on Pidgeon Road, the truck went off-road, which caused the box structure of the truck to flex and damage the vehicle’s frame.
“We had trouble even getting it out of the bush,” he said.
Williamson also stressed the importance of having a smaller truck, not only because of the increase in daily tasks for the deputy chief, but also for providing access to places that are hard to reach for the bigger fire trucks, such as in the bush.
“You can’t get an engine back there,” he added.
A staff report notes the main factors for the failure of the truck were its age and the fact it was used to carry significant weight.
Williamson pointed out they were looking into a couple of options for newer second-hand vehicles they could get from departments on Vancouver Island, such as Campbell River and Duncan.
The former one is about $10,000 cheaper but a little older.
The specific request from the fire chief was for a budget of up to $80,000. Most of this would go to cover the cost of the actual vehicle. About $2,000 of this would cover the cost of the decal while another $5,000 has been budgeted for additional expenses such as emergency lighting, radio or other equipment. The staff report notes much of the equipment can be transferred from the old unit.
Council members had questions about funding and whether there is money held in reserve.
Chief financial officer and acting chief administrative officer Michelle Mason told council there are reserve funds for the purchase, though they do have to consider similar expenses in the future.
“You’re going to have some real challenges coming up with vehicle purchases,” she said.
To this, the fire chief added, “You’re always going to require new vehicles.”
Council passed a motion to approve the expense and amend the village’s financial plan bylaw.