A brand-new pumper truck unveiled in Harbour Main-Chapels Cove-Lakeview on Christmas week is all the more special because it is dedicated to Kevin Kennedy, a former longstanding volunteer firefighter who passed away this summer.
“We retired his bunker gear not too long ago. But his memory will never be forgotten. His dedication to his firehall, his love for his community and his family, will always be remembered,” said Mayor Mike Doyle to a crowd of residents, volunteers, and guests who gathered on Monday, December 21.
Adorning one of the front passenger windows is Kennedy’s name, angelic memorial wings and a halo, along with the message ‘34 Years of Service.’
The truck was purchased at a cost of $132,250. And, because the town was in good financial standing, it was able to buy the pumper without any government help.
“This wasn’t exactly a Christmas present, but it sure felt like one,” said Doyle, remarking it was a matter of finding the right truck at the right time at the right cost.
“This has been a lot of years to get to here,” he added. “We’ve known for many years that we needed a new pumper. We could see the rising cost of the maintenance to our old pumper each year. But what we needed to do was find a truck that would meet all of our criteria, and was affordable enough for this community. And, we needed a pumper that met the mandate of not only this town, but the region. So now, that we’ve been able to pay for our pumper, we as a community and the other communities will be able to support Avondale as they apply for a new pumper truck for their community.”
Doyle took some time to highlight some of the challenges faced by rural firefighters, one of which is having to fight fires along single vehicle access roads.
“So, when the pumper goes in to respond to the fire, understand it cannot leave to go get more water,” he said. “So, what happens is the other fire departments have to be standing by; one will set up a centralized area, from which we will pull water, while the other pumpers are filled with water and continue to run water to the scene.”
That’s why it’s so important, explained Doyle, for the volunteer fire fighters from the neighbouring communities of Colliers, Avondale, and Conception Harbour, who often have members on scene, to work together whenever there is a fire or any other emergency in the region.
Doyle added the old truck will be kept for practice, as it is still in working order, noting the actual driving mechanics and not the fire fighting components caused most of the concern.
“I don’t know chief, how many times, going up a hill, you’d say, ‘Come on, make it up one more time, you can do this,’” he joked.
Doyle noted Avondale has land designated for a regional fire training centre, and, with the completion of a smokehouse and teaching facility in the future, the region will have a fully operational training centre.
“We’re getting closer and closer everyday by working as a region to achieve that,” said Doyle.
“Our firefighters here bring with them a lot of skills — we have electricians, plumbers, millwrights and carpenters and masons, available to help with the construction of this regional fire training centre. What we don’t have are materials. So, we’ll have to work with the province, federal government, and regional fire services to secure those materials.”
He said that one day, he would like to see the region connected to Lee’s Pond in Avondale for greater access to fire hydrants, although that won’t be for sometime yet.
Fire Chief Tom Costello told the crowd that while the previous truck could only hold two firefighters, this new one holds six. The new pumper can also hold a thousand gallons of water, and has a generator that firefighters can use to hook up the jaws of life.
“She’s got the bells and whistles, no doubt,” said Costello.
Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News