Moorefield firefighters claiming their rescue truck is putting residents at risk
by Chris Daponte
Firefighters at the Moorefield station want the public to know they have serious safety concerns with the station’s rescue truck.
They also feel repeated requests for a replacement are being ignored by Mapleton councillors.
“It’s been brought up several times, but it’s fallen on deaf ears,”one firefighter told The Community News.
The volunteer, who wanted his name withheld, said firefighters at the station want members of the public to hear the other side of the story, after an article about the truck was published in last week’s paper.
On Nov. 27 council discussed a recent request by the Fire Services Committee - to form a committee to pursue the purchase the truck - and decided more information on the status of reserve accounts was needed before a final decision could be made.
Mayor John Green said buying two vehicles back-to-back for the department was not the habit of council (the township recently purchased a pumper truck for the Drayton station).
Several councillors acknowledged there are safety concerns with the Moorefield rescue truck, but firefighters at the station say the situation is more urgent than people think.
“It’s severely overweight and unsafe to drive in most conditions,” the volunteer firefighter said.
He said the 1994 truck likely was good when it was built, but since that time fire departments respond to a lot more calls, of all different types, and the truck is just too heavy once all the required equipment is on board.
When travelling to medical calls, firefighters are lucky if they can sustain speeds of 60km/hour in the vehicle, he added.
“It’s a very helpless feeling,” he said of travelling so slow when someone’s life may be at risk.
Another volunteer firefighter, who also did not want his name used, said because of its height, weight, and small tires the vehicle could be prone to rollovers.
But his biggest concern is that one day the slow speed of the vehicle may cause the department to arrive too late to a life-and-death call.
He said Mapleton councillors think the department just wants “a shiny new truck,” but firefighters don’t care about the age of the trucks, as long as they work properly.
“It’s not about us, it’s about the people living in the area that we’re trying to serve,” he said.
The firefighter wanted to be clear that the department does not want to exceed the speed limit, but just be able to get the vehicle up to a reasonable highway speed and maintain it.
“It’s the most needed vehicle in our fleet, but it’s also the slowest and most unsafe in the fleet,” he said.
He agreed that the truck is “not properly equipped” to carry all the equipment it does, let alone the additional weight of several firefighters.
When reached for comment last week, Green said buying a new rescue truck in 2008 would mean a 4% increase in taxes for Mapleton residents.
“We will study the urgency of it, and consider it in budget discussions,” Green said, though he added unless the township can find some extra money, the truck likely won’t be purchased next year.
He disputed claims that council has known of problems with the truck for some time, saying he was first informed about the truck within the last several weeks.
“It’s never come to council,”he said.
Green added that despite what firefighters say, council is indeed following the recommendation of the Fire Services Committee - which states that “a committee be formed to pursue the purchase” of the truck.
The mayor also took issue with the firefighters “playing politics” in the newspaper.
“That’s a dangerous game to play,” he said.