The Port Alberni Fire Department will be retro-fitting one of its rescue engines with a water tank and pump for wildfire response this summer.
Port Alberni city council approved the equipment purchase during a meeting on Monday, as deputy fire chief Wes Patterson explained that the “wildland firefighting box” on Rescue 8 will be used within municipal boundaries and for contract wildfire response outside city boundaries for the British Columbia Ministry of Forests Wildfire Protection Services.
Last year the city experienced a significant wildfire in the Roger Creek area, but due to the size of the engine used in their response, firefighters were not able to access the lower portion of Roger Creek and were forced to fight the fire from the top.
“Adding the water tank and pump would allow us that extra flexibility,” explained Patterson. Rescue 8 is a smaller vehicle.
The cost for the retro-fit will be taken out of the city’s Equipment Replacement Reserve Fund (ERRF). Funding is already being accrued in this reserve for the purchase of a wildland firefighting box in 2021, but the purchase has now been moved to 2018. The city budgets will remain unchanged, said city CAO Tim Pley.