Spirits were high last week at the fire hall in Harbour Grace when the historic brigade officially unveiled its new multi-role rescue-pumper truck in front of current and retired firefighters.
The 2012 Crimson Rescue Engine, which cost just under $360,000 and was cost-shared with the provincial government, is a replacement of three of the oldest parts of the brigade's fleet.
It was originally an 80-20 split between the Town of Harbour Grace and the provincial government, but that changed when the brigade selected what they wanted.
"We opted to go with a better truck to accommodate what we wanted," said fire truck committee member Paul Snow. "So, the town and the fire department paid a little bit extra."
The new truck replaces three other vehicles in the fleet.
"We took three and combined them into one," said Snow.
Chief Ray Verge called the new truck "a beautiful piece of equipment."
The truck arrived more than six weeks ago, and has already been put to good use, including responding to a blaze in nearby Bristol's Hope earlier this month.
Verge said the new truck allows his department to do so much more. It becomes even more helpful when the brigade has to deal with a motor vehicle accident (MVA).
"Before, when I had an MVA on Veterans (Memorial Highway), I would have to roll out three pieces of equipment to get the necessary manpower and equipment there," said Verge. "Now, I'm doing it with one."
Along with the driver and passenger seats in the front of the vehicle, the Crimson Rescue Engine can seat eight more crew members in the extended cab.
The feature will help when the department has to perform a cold water rescue.
"It'll help with cold water rehab, especially in the winter and the frigid temperatures," said Verge.
Now, not only is the Harbour Grace Volunteer Fire Brigade one of the oldest departments in the Trinity-Conception region, but it now boasts one of the more impressive pieces of firefighting equipment in the area.
The 2012 Crimson Rescue Engine is automatic, allowing whoever is using the machine to operate it easily and effectively.
"It's all push-button; very user-friendly," said Verge.
The truck features a built-in Hale foam system to go along with a 1,250 Imperial Gallon pump, a class A foam system, and a 10-kilowatt Harrison hydraulic generator which, according to Verge, could power a small neighbourhood during a power failure.
When winter sets in, a unique feature will allow Harbour Grace firefighters to easily navigate the many icy hills in the community.
With the push of a button, the machine will automatically deploy chains around its own tires.
"It's all of the extras," said Verge. "It's all stuff that we needed."
The abundance of storage space is also impressive. With three vertical storage lockers on either side, it ensures the brigade will be prepared for whatever situation it is presented with.
When the new truck came in, the brigade was forced to look at the construction of its fire truck bay. The Crimson Rescue Engine required a bigger opening before it could be safely and properly secured inside the building.
"We had to raise the doors to accommodate the new truck," said Paul Snow.
So, there were new doors purchased at a price of just under $20,000, cost-shared between the Town of Harbour Grace and the provincial government.
Municipal Affairs Minister Kevin O'Brien was on hand for the unveiling. He said when the Harbour Grace brigade approached him with its plan to purchase a new vehicle, he was struck by the proposal.
"It impressed because it wasn't over-the-top," said O'Brien.
He added, "you have a great fire department, I guarantee you that.
"We're really proud of the investment and really proud of you as a fire department."
Verge said the new rescue/pumper is what the aging department needs.
"She's the gear," he said. "I'd like to have another one just like her."
About the new fire truck:
• Model - 2012 Crimson Rescue Engine;
• Chassis - 8-man Spartan Force chassis;
• Engine - Cummings 380 horse power;
• Cost - just under $360,000;
• Features - built-in Hale class A foam system; 1,250 imperial gallon Hale pump; 840 gallon poly-tank; 10-kilowatt Harrison generator;
• Replaces - 1982 Ford 840 King pumper; 1985 Ford E350 cube van; 1992 Ford F350 rescue.