The Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department's new structural protection equipment trailer, December 2020. Photo credit: Barbara Roden

Cache Creek fire department gets more than expected with grant

Funds have gone toward structural protection equipment, a trailer, and firefighter training

Christmas has come early for the Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department (CCVFD) in the form of new wildfire protection equipment and a trailer to haul it in, thanks to a grant from the Canadian Red Cross.

CCVFD fire chief Tom Moe says that he learned about the grant — which also involved the BC Fire Chiefs Association and the BC Fire Commissioner’s Office — when someone tagged him in a post about it on Facebook. “It was a wildfire resiliency grant for wildfire-affected villages. I wasn’t exactly sure what they were giving the grant for, so I applied for SCBA [breathing apparatus] funding.

“I got a message back saying those [units] aren’t really for wildfires, so I changed tack.” (At a meeting in October, Cache Creek council approved the purchase of four new SCBA units for the CCVFD).

Moe remembered the portable sprinklers that the CCVFD borrowed from the Fire Commissioner’s Office in 2017, which were placed at the top of Stage Road to provide protection during the Elephant Hill wildfire. He revised the grant application to ask for funding for structural protection equipment, and received the good news that the application — for $50,000 — was approved. The news got even better: he was told they would also be getting an additional $15,000.

The department purchased two water bladders and pumps, as well as lots of small diameter hose and sprinklers, and Moe says that it puts the department “miles ahead” of where it was in 2017.

“The beauty of this is that if the power goes out in town or we lose water pressure in the hydrants, we can set these bladders up wherever they’re needed. We now have three bladders, which hold 7,500 gallons of water in total.

“And I think of 2017, when there was a risk of the fire coming back into town. and of all the houses we can protect with [the hoses and sprinklers]. It makes a pretty good fireguard.”

The department then needed somewhere to store the equipment so that it could be transported to where it was needed. Moe says that a sprinkler trailer built to BC Wildfire Service standards — which could be taken to, and used on, fires anywhere in the province — cost around $150,000 and needed more equipment than Cache Creek had. So he looked around for a 14’ cargo trailer that would fit the bill.

“I went to Trailers Etc. in Savona and gave Wendy and Norm there my budget. We ordered the cargo trailer from them and it was custom-built for us with all our specs. Wendy put all the options on it she could for the price, like a drop-down rear door, the lighting, the paint job, etc. It got delivered from the factory on Nov. 27, and I picked it up on Dec. 1.”

After getting three quotes for the equipment and three quotes for the trailer, Moe says they had just over $17,000 left, which is going towards training for the Cache Creek firefighters.

“A new [firefighters’] playbook came out a few years ago, and all volunteer departments have to be up to certain standards now. We finished our exterior operations training two weeks ago. We still have to write the tests and do the practical, but as far as that training is concerned we’ve done it. We still have a surplus in the training budget, so training will be ongoing. After we’ve totally finished the exterior portion we’ll start on interior operations training.”

In the meantime, racking and bins for the trailer, which will be towed behind the department’s crew cab, has been purchased to store the equipment in. “Putting it all together will be our winter project,” says Moe.

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