$35K in life-saving equipment stolen from N.S. fire department

The chief of Barneys River Volunteer Fire Department noticed life-saving items were missing on Sunday night.  (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)
The chief of Barneys River Volunteer Fire Department noticed life-saving items were missing on Sunday night. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)

Pictou County District RCMP are investigating after approximately $35,000 worth of equipment was stolen from a volunteer fire department in Barneys River, including essential tools to save lives.

On Sunday, police responded to a call of a break-in believed to have taken place between 11 p.m. AT on Oct. 26 and 11 p.m. AT on Oct. 30 at the Barneys River Volunteer Fire Department.

A set of Jaws of Life cutters, a Hurst electric ram, a Stihl power saw and a Milwaukee reciprocating saw were among the pieces stolen.

Those specialized items are used to extricate victims from car collisions or to gain entry to buildings.

"This is pretty low," said Joe MacDonald, the department's fire chief.

"This is life-saving equipment for people in dire need sometimes," he said. "It's sad, just like taking something from the hospital."

The discovery

MacDonald stopped by the fire station late Sunday night and noticed the door was ajar.

"I just poked my head in and saw the rescue storage area on the rescue truck open," he said.

He called the RCMP to investigate.

MacDonald isn't sure what someone would want with the specialized equipment.

"I guess they could be used in illegal activities," he said. "I don't know exactly what their plans are so I can't speculate what they'd use them for."

Matthew Moore/CBC
Matthew Moore/CBC

'We need to have them'

Since 2009, MacDonald estimates the section of Highway 104 between Antigonish and Sutherlands River has seen more than 400 vehicle collisions. RCMP statistics from the same time period show police have responded to 16 fatal collisions and 17 serious injury collisions.

"Us being on a very dangerous stretch of highway… we need to have them," MacDonald said.

The fire department's out-of-province supplier is sending loaner equipment, MacDonald said. There are also backup systems in place in the event of a car accident.

In Pictou County, another fire department with extrication equipment will automatically respond to entrapments or other unknown accidents.

Matthew Moore/CBC
Matthew Moore/CBC

The fire department's front door was also damaged in the break-in, and work is underway to make the building more secure.

But MacDonald said he has very little hope that the items will be returned.

"I doubt the person that took them has enough respect for volunteer firefighters to return them. If they did, they wouldn't have [taken] them in the first place," he said.

RCMP are asking anyone with information on the incident or anyone who knows where the stolen items are located to contact them at 902-755-4141. Anonymous tips can be reported through Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca.