At the annual Skate With Santa event at the Drylands Arena in Ashcroft on Dec. 11, sponsored by the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD), children weren’t the only ones receiving gifts.
Members of the department were all smiles as they showed off three new pieces of equipment for the AVFD’s new primary fire engine, Engine 3 (a fourth and final piece of new equipment has been ordered).
The items did not come courtesy of Santa Claus; the more than $13,000 needed to purchase them came from Teck Highland Valley Copper (THVC) and its Community Investment committee. Jacquie Schneider, the senior community affairs officer for THVC, said that Ashcroft firefighter Tyler Fitzpatrick, who works at the mine and is on the Emergency Response Team there, knew that THVC had helped the Cache Creek Fire Department, and asked about their funding program.
Ashcroft fire chief Josh White said that the department has been fundraising to purchase new equipment for Engine 3, and had a two-year plan in place. Fitzpatrick asked White what equipment was still needed, and four pieces were decided on: a cutoff saw, a heavy duty chainsaw, a blow-hard fan, and a piercing nozzle.
The first three pieces were at the arena for Skate With Santa, and White explained that the cutoff saw and chainsaw were both designed for firefighters, and had features such as depth gauges for cutting through walls, while the chainsaw had a large handle and starter so that it could be used while wearing firefighting gloves.
White said that the cutoff saw would cut through anything from a steel door to a brick wall: “It’ll go through any material out there.” He also pointed out that both items would help cut down on rescue time.
The blow hard fan folds down and runs on a battery, meaning it can be taken indoors to quickly and safely ventilate any building. The fan the department currently has runs off the fire engine’s engine, so the new fan also eliminates carbon monoxide emissions, and the battery can be fully recharged within an hour
The piercing nozzle has a hardened end so it can be pounded with a sledgehammer and pierce a hole through a wall. “It will allow us to go in with a hose and start extinguishing a fire without firefighters going inside the building,” explained White.
He also noted that similar equipment is already aboard Engine 5, meaning both engines will be equipped.
“If Engine 3 is deployed elsewhere [as it was during the 2017 wildfires], it means we still have equipment in the community.”
White said that the new equipment means that pretty much everything they wanted for Engine 3 has been covered. “There might be a few more little pieces. We’ve been purchasing things over the last two years.”
Both Schneider and White stressed the role Fitzpatrick played in obtaining the funding for the equipment.
“He found out what the needs were, and what sort of cost was involved,” said Schneider. “And he knew what sort of equipment was needed because of his ERT role at Highland Valley.
“Tyler was a huge part of making this happen. He stepped up and grabbed the bull by the horns and asked if he could get this done. And it means that funds raised at the annual Slo-pitch tournament can go toward other things.”
White said that once the department knew that THVC was providing the funds, they went ahead and ordered the new pieces of equipment. “It was awesome, and really exciting.”
Schneider said that she hoped the department never had to use the equipment, but that if they did, it was good to know that firefighters could do their job quickly and effectively.
“If there are ways we can help the Ashcroft community, that’s great for us. We’re really impressed with the safety and security [firefighters] provide for the Village of Ashcroft. Safety is very important to us, and if we can help you do your job, we will.”