Armstrong-Spallumcheen rescue truck garners approval

Joint councils from Armstrong and Spallumcheen will come to the rescue of the fire department’s rescue truck.

Joint councils from Armstrong and Spallumcheen will come to the rescue of the fire department’s rescue truck.

And not a moment too soon.

The councils voted unanimously to spend $275,000 – money both councils have budgeted for – to replace the nearly 25-year-old rescue truck, which houses the department’s emergency equipment such as the Jaws of Life.

“The truck has served its useful life,” said Armstrong Spallumcheen fire chief Ian Cummings.

“Just the other day, we were going to a call and we couldn’t get the truck out of the hall. We got it going and we got to the call late. Then we needed a tow truck to assist us in getting it going again.

“We’ve had problems with the engine stalling out, it’s had numerous repairs. It’s overweight with the equipment we carry on it and it’s under power. Replacing the truck is probably our most pressing need.”

Cummings told the two councils, gathered for their quarterly joint meeting Thursday in the township chambers, that if he were to order a new truck today, it would take six-to-eight months to have it arrive in the North Okanagan.

A replacement truck was scheduled to be purchased in 2013.

Armstrong administrator Patti Ferguson said one of the reasons that it hasn’t been bought earlier is that a new truck wouldn’t fit in the existing fire hall.

“A new truck is so critical to our membership and executive that if we had to, on a temporary basis, move one of our tenders out to get the rescue truck in, we’d do that,” said Cummings.

Both councils discussed the merits of expanding the firehall, a suggestion first brought to the table in 1978, just 10 years or so after the current hall opened.

In 2011, Cummings presented a conceptual hall expansion plan from architect Bernd Hermanski  that he estimated would cost $1.6 million.

Among the current issues, besides space for a new rescue truck, is shower facilities.

Presently, there is one and Cummings said it is old, dirty and grungy. And with the department now considering applications from at least two women firefighters, new and more showers are a must.

“Cancer in the fire industry is a huge problem, and guys are told to shower after a call out and to wash their turnout gear to remove the toxins,” said  Cummings. “It’s impossible for our members to abide by the rules we’re trying to set down. If female firefighters join the hall, we’ll need adequate facilities for them.”

Armstrong Coun. Ryan Nitchie believes the current hall has outlived its usefulness.

“The building was built around 1978 and has lasted for 35 years. This expansion plan gives us another 35 years,” said Nitchie. “We can figure out how to do the financing.”

Spallumcheen Coun. Christine Fraser moved to send the plan to tenders, and to seek grant funding to help pay for expansion.

“What the architect put forward is just a ballpark figure,” said Fraser. “We should send out tender documents and see what actual numbers come back. We can’t do this without grant funding. The township is not in financial position to fund the whole project.”

The councils voted unanimously to direct staff to prepare tender documents for the preparation of bidding and construction documents for an expanded fire truck bay and the rest of the hall’s renovations.

They also voted to support seeking grants worth $800,000 to help pay for the project.