From being on the brink of closure a few years ago, the Beiseker fire department has received a new fire truck, and a new lease on life, as it welcomed its newest apparatus with a special "push in" ceremony Aug. 12.
The fire department recently purchased a new fire truck with the help of local donations to provide enhanced fire services for residents, and at the same time opened the door for additional local fire crew members to access it.
Although the old truck held more water, very few crew members were able to drive it, explained Beiseker Fire Chief Nikki King in a recent interview with the Rocky View Weekly. The new tender is now a viable option for those who can drive a standard transmission vehicle.
On Aug. 12, the fire department welcomed the new tender fire truck by means of a “push in” ceremony that dates back to the 1800's.
According to King, the push in ceremony is a reflection of horse drawn fire apparatuses that were unable to be backed up into the bay. She said the crew is excited to have the new truck and noted that members take it out for drives often.
“They love it," she said with a chuckle. "Every time I go to the hall, somebody else has it out for a road trip. We did a push in ceremony. Its tradition that whenever a fire department acquires a new apparatus that it’s pushed into the bay, as opposed to driven in.”
King brought up the need for a new fire truck to village council roughly a year ago. She soon found one in Ottawa that fit the needs of the department and waited roughly eight months for it to be repaired. At the end of June, the new tender was ready to be picked up.
The overall cost of the new tender was $49,000, with an additional $30,000 in repairs. She said community support made it possible to raise enough funds to purchase the vehicle.
“We had a lot of support from the community in order to get this vehicle and make it feasible,” King said. “We operate on such a small operating budget that $80,000 is a pretty big hit to our budget, so the fact that we could raise that kind of money was outstanding.”
Two and a half years ago, the fire department was almost shut down and taken over by Rocky View County. Struggling to find a new fire chief after the previous one retired, King was asked last minute to take on the role.
King said Deputy Chief Amanda Davies also played a significant part in keeping the department running. Creating a new operations budget and five-year plan allowed them to transform into a successful branch within the village.
With this history in mind, the purchase of the new fire truck has been greatly celebrated by the community, which fought hard to keep its local fire department's doors open.
“To go from almost being closed to getting a new apparatus brought in, it’s a pretty good feeling,” King confirmed. “Certainly [we have] gone a lot farther than what I anticipated when I first took on this role.”
The new fire truck is essential King said, being that it is the most used apparatus within the department. King added with more hands able to drive the truck that the department's availability for calls is "much enhanced.”