Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Department fire chief Tom Moe and 2nd assistant fire chief Damian Couture were at the Cache Creek council meeting on August 20, to get started on the purchase of a new primary fire engine for the Village.
Engine 3, the current primary engine, was built in 1994. Insurance underwriter regulations stipulate that for a community of Cache Creek’s size, the primary engine must be no more than 20 years old, although a five-year extension can be applied for (and was, in Cache Creek’s case).
“It’s the first official step,” says Moe. “We’ve been bringing it up for a couple of years, and made a capital request [for funds] every year for the past two or three years, but it’s never gone to council.”
Engine 2, the department’s secondary engine, was built in 1969, and Moe says that a recent mechanic’s report indicated the engine is not in good shape. “It has wiring issues, the tank has a leak, and it’s not pumping well. In tests, the pump has to be brought up to 300 pounds of pressure and kept there for several minutes, but because it’s so old, it hasn’t been tested for several years.”
He notes that both engines are underpowered, and have issues on the hills around Cache Creek. “Even when it was new, Engine 3 lacked power going up the hills.” Moe adds that new engines have far more safety features than older models, such as lighting under the steps so that firefighters can better see what they’re stepping into in the dark.
Moe says that the department is looking for a new engine, not a used one. “You can buy used, but those are usually another department’s throwaways. And after a few years you’re back where you started.” He estimates that the cost of a new truck will be approximately $450,000, and says that Hub Fire Engines in Abbotsford would be his vendor of choice for a new engine.
“We’ve dealt with them forever, and they come here every year and service our trucks.” He adds that since they’re only three hours’ drive away in Abbotsford, it would be easy to go down and check on progress as the engine is built.
Moe says that over time it isn’t the trucks that wear out, but equipment like the pumps and valves. “Engine 2 only has 16,000 original miles on it.” The potential consequences of not having a primary engine that conforms to insurance underwriters standards can be large, however. A community in that situation can be deemed not to have adequate fire protection, meaning fire insurance rates for residents and businesses increase.
“We’ve already had five years’ grace on Engine 3,” notes Moe. “What would people rather spend money on: insurance, or a new piece of equipment? If we do it right, there will be no, or very little, cost to taxpayers.”
The department already has $100,000 set aside to put towards the cost of a new engine. Moe explains that the money comes from the fire department, not the Village, and that much of it comes from payments to the department following their work on the Venables Valley fire in 2003.
“The money has been set aside since then. And we have $41,000 coming from the Office of the Fire Commissioner for the work we did during last year’s wildfires. I had to fight long and hard for that.”
The department also has $27,000 in funds set aside for the purchase of equipment for the new engine. The money represents donations made last year, and the department recently received a 2008 three-quarter ton crew cab as a donation from Spectra Energy in Savona, which had heard that the CCVFD needed a new command unit after the old one failed during the 2017 wildfires.
“I had to tell them that we’d just had a new command unit donated, and asked if it was okay for us to sell the truck they’d donated and put the money towards a new engine. They were fine with that.”
Following the presentation at the council meeting on August 20, Cache Creek mayor John Ranta asked Moe to provide specs for a new engine so they could begin the the process of ordering a new engine, which takes a year or more between ordering and taking delivery. Moe says that he has already delivered specs to the Village office.
“[Former fire chief] Clayton Cassidy was working with Hub on this last year, before he passed away, so I’ve handed that in. We basically want the same engine that the Ashcroft Fire Department recently got. Now we need to get the ball rolling.”