Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Peace River Fire Department held an in-service ceremony for its new ladder truck on June 20 at the fire hall.
Fire Chief Tim Harris says around 60 people attended, including firefighters and their families, Town of Peace River and County of Northern Lights councillors, town staff and the public.
“Fire service has many traditions, developed over more than 200 years of history, that are carried on today,” said Harris.
“The act of holding a ceremony to put the truck in service fosters pride in the fire department and in the town and helps us appreciate what we have and the responsibility to look after it.
“A couple of traditions that we carried out in this ceremony was the wetting down of the fire truck and the pushing of it into the fire hall,” he adds.
Harris explains the traditions date back to when fire apparatus or wagons were pulled by horses to the fire and back.
“When they returned to the fire hall after the call, the horses were wet down with water to cool them off and wash them,” Harris says.
“The wagons were also washed down. The wagons were then pushed into the fire hall by the firefighters as the horses could not back them in. We use that symbolism today to preserve those traditions and the history of the fire service.”
Harris says the new ladder truck will bring great capabilities to the fire department that have been long sought after and needed in the community.
The truck is a 110’ Ascendant Aerial Platform manufactured in Appleton, Wisconsin.
“We are very appreciative of the support and foresight of the previous and current councils in the Town of Peace River and County of Northern Lights enabling this acquisition,” says Harris.
“With this truck we have the ability to perform rescues from high buildings. The tallest building in Peace River is the six-storey Heritage Towers, and during training with the truck we were easily able to reach the sixth floor windows and even onto the roof,” he adds.
Harris says there are many uses for the truck, and during their training session they had to help rescue a construction worker at the new bridge site.
“This truck can also be used to create elevated master streams, enabling us to get large amounts of water over the fire to more effectively control it,” he explains.
“The truck is also designed with a rated anchor point behind the platform enabling us to create an overhead anchor point for rope rescues. This feature was put into service earlier in the month when we were called to rescue a worker who had fallen through the scaffolding on the construction on the old Highway 2 bridge. This unit will allow us to help people in a wide variety of ways, some we may not have thought of yet and – yes – we can use it to rescue cats from trees!”
Peace River Mayor Elaine Manzer says the ladder truck acquisition was something that has been supported by councils both present and in the past.
“Funding for the new ladder truck was discussed by several town councils and the 2017 council approved the plan to buy the new apparatus as the other trucks have aged,” says Manzer.
“It provides a safer way for firefighters to read and fight these types of fires. It also has a camera on the platform to help provide more info to the fire department.”
The ladder truck arrived in time for the Northern Firefighters conference held in Peace River in May.
Harris says the next piece of equipment he is researching is a light rescue unit for responses to motor vehicle collisions, other rescues, and medical responses.
All photos courtesy f Photos by Lori of Peace River!