Westport Fire Chief says province should step up
The fire chief in Westport is calling on government to help with what he calls a serious lack in equipment needed to perform their jobs.
After an incident last week where the Department was called out to rescue a man trapped in the woods, Harris Gavin says it’s amazing that his men were able to do what they did with so little resources.
Gavin says that a fire truck has been missing from their arsenal for the past several weeks. Right now their department is without any way to even transport their equipment in the case of an emergency.
To save the life of David Warren last week, he says, volunteer firefighters used their own vehicles to travel to the site of the accident.
“The (fire) truck was turned down,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on her, and we just can’t afford to do it.”
Westport’s Fire Department is like many in the province, and have been using the same truck for years.
Gavin says the truck is several decades old and has seen better days. When they carried it to Baie Verte a few weeks ago for a routine inspection, there were a number of issues that kept it from passing.
“There was over $5,000 in repairs needed at this point, and they haven’t even finished the inspection,” he told the Nor’wester earlier this week.
He says that there’s no way the fire department can afford to make the repairs on the truck and they have no means to raise money in order to do it.
“We’re in a small town, and it’s mostly seniors here now, so you really can’t go after people and ask them for more than they’re already giving,” he said. “We just can’t swing it.”
Right now, he says the council is in contact with the Fire and Emergency Services and are hoping that a surplus vehicle somewhere in the province will be made available to them.
“We’re hoping that the (provincial) government can come up with a vehicle for us so that if something does happen, at least we’d have something.”
Gavin says they’re also planning to apply for funding for a new truck through the Department, but admits that it’s going to be difficult coming up with their portion of the money needed for the new vehicle.
The chief added that a pager system would also have helped them with last week’s accident.
“We’re still phoning around to people,” he said. “When I got the call, I went to deal with it, and my wife, who’s also on the fire department, had to stay behind and try to call some more people to get them to help as well.”
Harris says if they had a pager system, they would be able to contact firefighters much faser, and more efficiently in the event of an emergency.
He also says that the lack of cell phone coverage in the region is a problem.
“If there was cell service in this area, then it’s quite possible the situation this week could have been much different,” he said. “If someone goes in the woods, and there’s cell phone coverage then in all likelihood, they’ll take their phone. So the minute that happened he could have called out and we could have been there.”
Gavin says government needs to realize that when it comes to human lives there shouldn’t be an expense – and things some fire departments in the province take for granted would be a great blessing to others like his.