Tofino approves purchase of $500,000 fire truck

Tofino’s recently revamped fire hall will soon welcome a $502,000 Fire Service Pumper Truck.

Tofino’s recently revamped fire hall will soon welcome a brand new fire truck as council has given staff the official go ahead to purchase a $502,000 Fire Service Pumper Truck from Asphodel Fire Trucks Ltd.

The district received six responses to a request for proposals sent out on July 10, with two of them being immediately discarded because they came in after the July 20 due date, according to a report submitted by Tofino’s Fire Chief John Gilmour and reviewed by council during Sept. 8’s regular meeting.

Of the four proposals considered, Asphodel’s $502,000 came with the lowest price followed by $616,204 from Hub Fire Engines, $622,348 from Fort Garry Fire Trucks, and $657,500 from Safetek, according to Gilmour’s report.

After reviewing the report, Coun. Cathy Thicke asked why a fire truck was needed.

“To be quite forthright, I was expecting a little bit more in the report,” she said.

“We’re being asked for a large sum of money (and) I really have no knowledge as to why we need this. I felt that there needed to be a little bit more background on why the money was set aside…I felt that we should hear more about why such an expensive truck is needed to give us the information so we can make a more informed decision.”

Gilmour was at the meeting and responded that replacing the fire department’s current truck is overdue.

“This actually should have been done last year,” he said adding that in order to maintain its fire rating the district must have a main fire engine under 20 years old.

“Ours is past that due date and we need to replace it to keep our current fire rating,” he said. “Why it’s determined at 20 years is that the manufacturers are only required to keep parts on hand for 20 years…In the event of our pumper going down at this point in its life there is the chance that there won’t be parts available to fix that meaning we would not be able to offer our fire protection in this community,” he said.

Thicke asked if it was possible to purchase a used fire truck rather than a brand new one.

Gilmour said he had looked for used trucks in his search but only found one available and determined it would not bring any dollar savings to go with it.

“The cost per-year of that truck actually came in pretty close to the new truck because it was a four year old truck,” he said. “The costs associated with the depreciation of it there was no real savings…It was less money to go forward with a new truck rather than a used truck.”

He added used fire trucks are hard to come by because municipalities don’t usually put them up for sale.

“They are very hard to come by because they are bought for specific departments that are going to use them for their lifetime,” he said.

The district had about $250,000 saved up to purchase the new truck and the remaining roughly $300,000 will be covered through a loan.

Coun. Greg Blanchette asked how this loan would be amortized but the district’s director of finance responded that this information will not be known until a later date.

Coun. Al Anderson asked if the district planned to sell the truck it is replacing.

Gilmour said sale options would be sought but added it is rare for a community to be looking for a fire truck that’s passed its due date.

“That truck’s value is somewhere between $5,000-$50,000,” he said. “A community would need to want a second in line pumper or a reserve truck.”

Mayor Josie Osborne asked if Tofino’s neighbouring First Nations communities could use the truck.

Gilmour responded this is an option and the community of Esowista could be interested.

“They don’t have any fire protection in their community so it would be an upgrade. They also don’t need to follow the same underwriter policies that we do,” he said.

Coun. Al Anderson added the truck could possibly help improve the airport’s fire protection.

Council’s approval of purchasing the new truck was unanimous.

andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca