New fire truck, radio gear for firefighters at Canada department

The total purchase, worth more than $411,000, received the final green light at council

The District Weekender

MUSKOKA LAKES, Canada — Township council has given Muskoka Lakes' fire department approval to buy a new fire truck and more powerful radio equipment.

The total purchase, worth more than $411,000, received the final green light at council on Monday morning, and involves the purchase of a new pumper truck and new radios and radio repeaters. Part of the radio purchase is expected to be funded by a federal grant.

The truck will cost approximately $391,000 and be purchased from Darch Fire Inc. of Ayr, Ontario, which won a competitive tender process that ended in early October.

The truck is expected to arrive in January 2012, and will replace an aging truck that was purchased in 1991 at the Walker's Point fire station.

Fire chief Richard Hayes says the new truck's six-person capacity will allow the station to carry more firefighters to each call in a single truck, reducing the number of firefighters responding in their personal vehicles.

"Upon arrival, these firefighters would be outfitted with their personal protective equipment and ready to fight the fire or deal with the emergency," he said. Because the truck will cost more than the $300,000 council had budgeted for earlier in the year, the remainder of the cost will be carried over to the next budget year.

The township will fund 55 per cent of the nearly $20,000 bill for the radio apparatus. The remainder is hoped to be financed through a grant from the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program - a federal government program developed in the 1980s to improve emergency management capabilities across Canada.

The department submitted its application for the grant in early October. Hayes said a government decision on the grant is expected by March of next year. The radio purchase includes repeaters to boost the signal strength of the department's hand-held radios.

New Motorola MOTOTRBO radios are also part of the purchase, which would allow firefighters to access channels used by other emergency services during major disasters, when crews from different public safety agencies will be required to work together.

"This equipment would enhance our existing radio communications network and provide the interoperability needed in an emergency situation," said Hayes. "The (new radios) will be programmed to have our existing channel lineup, plus common channels that would enable interoperability with other emergency services having the same frequencies."

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