The Cache Creek, Ashcroft, and Clinton fire departments all have specialized units to dry their turn-out gear, thanks to an initiative started by Ashcroft resident Bob Cave and supported by several generous donors. (from left) Ashcroft firefighter Tyler Fitzpatrick; donor Dale Fletcher; Ashcroft fire chief Josh White; Ashcroft deputy chief Steve Anderson; Cache Creek fire chief Tom Moe; donor Irene Dumont; and Bob Cave in Cache Creek with two of the drying units.                                Barbara Roden

The Cache Creek, Ashcroft, and Clinton fire departments all have specialized units to dry their turn-out gear, thanks to an initiative started by Ashcroft resident Bob Cave and supported by several generous donors. (from left) Ashcroft firefighter Tyler Fitzpatrick; donor Dale Fletcher; Ashcroft fire chief Josh White; Ashcroft deputy chief Steve Anderson; Cache Creek fire chief Tom Moe; donor Irene Dumont; and Bob Cave in Cache Creek with two of the drying units. Barbara Roden

New dryer units donated to Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and Clinton fire departments

Several local people and businesses teamed up to raise funds for the units.

Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department chief Tom Moe—accompanied by firefighters, Ashcroft fire chief Josh White, and donors—was on hand in Cache Creek on the evening of Sunday, July 30 to accept and acknowledge the presentation of drying apparatus for firefighters’ turn-out gear to the Cache Creek, Ashcroft, and Clinton fire departments.

Clinton fire chief Wayne Walsh could not be there for the presentation due to the fire threatening Clinton. However, the dryer was delivered to the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department later that evening.

The donation was the brain-child of Bob Cave, whose son Jackson is an Ashcroft volunteer firefighter and saw the need for the dryers. “Jackson was coming home every night [during the recent wildfires] soaking wet,” says Cave, since turn-out gear—including helmets, gloves, boots, and uniforms—is bulky and does not breathe at all. Anyone wearing it for any length of time soon becomes drenched; and so does the gear.

However, it is difficult to adequately dry turn-out gear without the proper equipment. The gear is normally dried out with a dedicated gear air dryer, but they are quite expensive, and most small volunteer fire departments can’t afford them. Cave saw the need, and found a solution when he saw that the City of Vancouver was auctioning off several portable air dryers on a B.C. government website where municipalities sell off equipment that is no longer needed.

“I found these for sale, and thought ‘You guys could use this’,” says Cave, who purchased one unit and then saw two more were for sale. He quickly put a bid down for them, and then began asking for donations to assist with the purchase.

“Nobody said no,” he says. “And not one fire guy paid for them. Some offered, but I said ‘I wouldn’t take your money.’”

One of the people Cave approached was Dale Fletcher, who with his wife Rose purchased one of the units. “We just wanted to directly give back to the Cache Creek fire department,” says Rose Fletcher. “They worked tirelessly to save not just our houses, but our homes.”

Cave thanked Paul and Laura Martin; Sam’s Diner in Ashcroft; Donna Finnigan; Casey Ladoski; Dale and Rose Fletcher; Jesse Strom; Trevor Watt; Bob Rainer; United Steelworkers (USW) local 7619; Glen Ganuelas of the City of Vancouver; Len Garis, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C.; and I.D.A. Pharmacy (Ashcroft). Cave was too modest to credit himself and his family for their donation.

“This was a thank you for Clayton,” says Cave, referring to Cache Creek fire chief Clayton Cassidy, who died in May 2017. Cassidy—like Cave—was a long-time employee of Highland Valley Copper near Logan Lake. “USW said ‘It’s not a problem.’ I wanted to do this for Clayton; do something for him.” USW ended up generously paying half the cost of each unit.

“These fire departments work together, and they’re brothers,” says Cave. “I don’t want one brother to get something without the others.”

When the City of Vancouver—which was selling off the units—heard where they were going, they cut the price of the final two units by half, and threw in water as well. “They said ‘We’ll put as much water in the truck as possible,’” says Cave.

He adds that the donations received more than covered the cost of the drying units. The remaining funds will be split between the Cache Creek and Ashcroft fire departments.