New truck for O’Leary Fire Department

A lot of thought went into the creation of the new fire truck for the O’Leary Fire Department. In fact, the members of the department had a hand in designing it. Some of the new features on the truck include a digital pump panel, ladder storage that drops down to chest height, storage for hoses in the front bumper, and more. From left to right: Eric Gavin, mayor of O’Leary, Ron Phillips, chief of the O’Leary Volunteer Fire Department, Darrel Wood, fire commissioner for the town, and Blair Perry, chair of the New Fire Truck Committee. Jillian Trainor photo

After three years, a lot of fundraising, and some delays in delivery, the new truck for the O’Leary Fire Department has arrived.

The vehicle, which arrived on Aug. 9, is a Rosenbauer Commander, replacing a 30 year old unit that had its certification with Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) run out.

ULC is an independent product safety testing, certification and inspection organization.

Ron Phillips, chief of the volunteer department, said the new truck is a pumper, not a water tanker.

“A water tanker generally doesn’t have a pump on it,” he said. “Some of them do, but a pumper has a much larger pump on it, and generally a smaller tank. Also, it usually can carry a lot more personnel than a tanker can.”

This new pumper can carry eight crew members, compared to the five crew members a water tanker could, and can hold 1,000 gallons of water.

The new vehicle cost over $700,000. The Firemen’s Club donated $50,000 toward the new vehicle. The rest of the money will come out of the fire department’s budget as a yearly payment over the course of several years.

The initial plan was for the truck to arrive in July, but there were some issues with some of the paint on the truck that had to be straightened out first.

When asked what the other crew members thought of the new truck, Mr Phillips was quick with a joke.

“God, I hope they like it,” he said with a laugh.

The new truck has several new or different features compared to the older model, including a digital pump panel so things like water pressure can be controlled from one switch, controls for sucking water into the truck, ladder storage that drops down to chest height, storage for hoses in the front bumper, a larger, enclosed deck, so crew members have plenty of room to get dressed and equipped inside, seating that will hold breathing apparatuses, and much more. 

One other feature is a suction located at the back of the tank.

“It allows us to draw water from another tanker or from that drop tank,” said Mr Phillips. “It’s on the rear of the truck, whereas before, it was on the side of the truck, so it was putting the guys out in the middle of the highway to set it up. Now, they’ll just have to stand behind the truck.”

The truck was also designed by the members of the fire department, and is the only custom built Rosenbauer fire truck on PEI.

“Council was trusting enough to put it in the fire department’s hands to design it,” said Blair Perry, chair of the New Fire Truck Committee. “We had a committee of eight, and we always took suggestions back to our table of 28, so it was the final decision of the 28 members around the table. Once it was presented to council, they picked the tender and sent it out to five different bidders, and they picked the one that they wanted.”

Having the new truck will be very beneficial to the fire department.

“It helps keep our insurance rates down, because we need a registered pumper with ULC to keep our fire department rating,” said Mr Phillips. “We’re expecting a life span of 30 years out of that as well. If we put a truck in service, we’re expecting to get 30 years out of it.”

While the truck is now at the fire hall, it’s not in service just yet.

“We’re still outfitting it,” said Mr Phillips. “Basically the same equipment that’s on our current pumper, it’s all going to be swapped over, and to do that, we have to make sure it’s going to fit into place where we want to put it. That takes a little time.”

Mr Phillips would like to thank the community for supporting the fire department and its fundraising efforts to put money toward the truck.

The hope is to have the vehicle in service by the middle of September, if not sooner.

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