Rural maker of fire trucks singled out as ministers tout N.B.-first buying policy

·2 min read
Metalfab Fire Trucks operates in Centreville, a village of about 550 people in western New Brunswick, but it supplies trucks to fire halls around the Atlantic region. (Edwin Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Metalfab Fire Trucks operates in Centreville, a village of about 550 people in western New Brunswick, but it supplies trucks to fire halls around the Atlantic region. (Edwin Hunter/CBC - image credit)

In a rural New Brunswick village of about 550 people, the province's only fire-truck manufacturer is getting ready to send brand new trucks to fire halls across Atlantic Canada.

Jill Green, the transportation and infrastructure minister, held a news conference Tuesday at Metalfab to boast that the Centreville manufacturer has received about $6 million in provincial contracts in the past year and a half.

The deals were worked out as part of the New Brunswick-first procurement strategy meant to support local businesses while helping them more easily gain government contracts.

Metalfab Fire Trucks has been operating for about 50 years in the village about a 140-kilometre drive northwest of Fredericton, making fire trucks and equipment. It produces between 50 and 60 trucks a year.

Under one of its contracts with Metalfab, the province bought two fire tankers for forest protection, Green said.

"By consulting with industry on our plans for capital expenditures, we can take measures to better position New Brunswick companies to be a part of large capital projects," she said.

Service New Brunswick Minister Mary Wilson said the procurement strategy resulted in $14 million in government contracts going to rural New Brunswick businesses since 2020.

Over the last 15 years, Wilson said, $1.1 billion was spent on procurement per year, with 79 per cent of those contracts going to New Brunswick companies.

But since the implementation of the procurement strategy, she said that percentage has gone up. In 2021-22, 88 per cent of procurement contracts went to New Brunswick businesses, said Wilson.

The government is limited to 10 of these economic development contracts per year, she said.

Keeping it local

Metalfab president Gordon Green said the contracts the plant receives help to maintain a skilled workforce and also support other local businesses.

"A lot of what you'll see on a fire truck is purchased in New Brunswick," said Green.

He said this includes metal, fasteners and hardware.

Metalfab employs about 50 people, but Green said it also supports electrical contractors, heating contractors and other service companies, which will help attract more business activity to the area.