Burns Lake is scheduled to receive a new truck for the department by May of next year. Features on the machine will better equip local emergency crews to save lives, according to fire chief Rob Krause.
Burns Lake budgeted $350,000 for the tender, and it came in under budget, said Krause. But the final price tag remains unknown until the village receives the final build document reflecting some changes, including the addition of a cellphone booster in the cab.
The booster is imperative, he said, since the crew’s radios don’t work throughout the area covered by the Burns Lake fire department, making it difficult to contact the dispatcher.
The red and white vehicle will have a Freightliner semi-truck chassis. It will carry a crew of five firefighters and will be capable of hauling more weight than the current vehicle, said Krause.
The current truck is over its intended capacity when fully loaded with the necessary equipment, including the various extrication tools needed in car accidents. Motor vehicle accidents represent the most common emergency call in Burns Lake, said Krause.
But the fire department should be able to carry other equipment as well, he said. Examples include cold-water immersion gear that emergency workers have to wear to save someone who falls through the ice into Burns Lake or another body of water. This probably occurs annually, said Krause.
Currently, rescue workers from the volunteer force have to load these “survival suits” onto a truck if someone has taken a plunge into the icy water.
The minutes that it takes to load that gear could cost someone their life, said Krause. “That gear will be able to be stored there all the time,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest advantages of the new truck.”
The water-pumping system on the truck creates ultra-fine water droplets, which are better for absorbing heat and putting out fires, said Krause. “The finer the water droplet that you produce, the more water surface it has,” he said. “It’s that surface area that actually absorbs the heat, turns to steam and helps to put fire out.”
Burns Lake is buying the vehicle from Rocky Mountain Phoenix, the Canadian division of Rosenbauer International — reportedly the world’s biggest fire truck maker.
It’s being built in South Dakota and will be transported to Red Deer, Alta., said Krause. From there, under the terms of the agreement, the machine must be driven to Burns Lake under its own power, to ensure that it’s operating properly on the road.
The company will then provide one day of orientation, said Krause, noting that it will have unique features and controls. The proposed delivery date is still over a year away and Burns Lake is expecting to receive the vehicle by mid-May 2019.