Off on a long-distance rescue

Digby loaning truck to aid Newfoundland fire department

Published on February 22, 2010
Deputy fire chief Ben Cleveland climbs into the cab of Digby’s older rescue truck that is being loaned to a Newfoundland community that lost its fire hall. John DeMings photo

Helping Newfoundland fire departments is becoming a local tradition among volunteer firefighters.

Tomorrow, Digby delivers its recently replaced rescue truck to North Sydney where it will be ferried to Baie Verte, Nfld. The fire department there fell victim itself to a fire early this month.

It won’t be the first Digby-area truck to make its way across the Cabot Strait to Newfoundland.

Just over a year ago, firefighters here in Westport contributed their old pumper truck to the ill-equipped department in Westport, Nfld., not far from Baie Verte on the island’s northern shore.

While the Westports were connected by name, Digby and Baie Verte are connected by former Digby firefighter, Adrian Cox, now an RCMP officer stationed in the Newfoundland community, where he also volunteers as a firefighter. “He heard about our truck for sale and contacted us saying they desperately needed equipment and would we provide a truck for their use,” explained Digby deputy fire chief Ben Cleveland.

Digby is loaning the now-surplus 1989 rescue truck for 60 days and giving Baie Verte an option to buy. As well, fire departments in Brighton-Barton, Bear River and Annapolis Royal donated equipment that was to be loaded onto Digby’s truck before it headed out this week.

The Baie Verte fire engulfed the fire hall and all it contained, about $1 million worth of equipment. Cause of the fire is believed to be an electrical malfunction.

In an interview in the Western Star community newspaper, town mayor Gerald Acreman said Baie Verte is still waiting on word from its insurance company as to where its stands. “We thought we might hear this week, and we’re very anxiously awaiting that because until we know what the payout is going to be, we can’t pay to do anything. It’s very, very stressful right now. We have no long-term place (fire hall) in our town,” he said.

Acreman is worried his town won’t get back enough money from its insurance company to replace the lost fire equipment, which includes a 2008 and a 1990 pumper truck.

Meanwhile, Acreman said the town has good fire protection with an older rescue vehicle of its own and a pumper truck on loan from the fire commissioner’s office training school in Stephenville.

Acreman said he was impressed by the generous offer of Digby to loan a rescue truck. “It’s hard to believe that someone would do this. And not even in your own province,” he said.