West Kelowna Fire Rescue unveiled its newest set of wheels on Tuesday.
The Westside’s busiest fire hall—Station 31—will house the 2011 Spartan Gladiator Triple Combination Pumper: A compressed air foam system equipped fire engine.
The truck was built by Smeal of Snyder, Nebraska; it’s engine is a 500 horsepower Caterpillar Diesel.
An environmental feature of the tuck is a urea injection system, which controls diesel emissions.
Darren Lee, assistant fire chief with West Kelowna Fire Rescue, said that the compressed air foam system is ideal for fighting a variety of fires.
“That lets us actually make bubbles right at the pump, as opposed to adding soap down the line. It makes our firefighting water a lot more effective,” said Lee.
“Our department is really invested in compressed air foam technology. (It) helps us be, we think, more effective at structure fires and it really gives us an advantage at urban interface and wild land type fires.”
The assistant fire chief said that the new engine has a number of other features as well.
“It has a 500 gallon water tank and a 50 gallon foam cell. It carries about 2,000 feet of various diameters of fire hose. It has three ground ladders, a thermal imaging camera, a four-gas detector and a whole host of firefighting and emergency medical equipment on board.”
The truck also features bright emergency lighting to help ensure that people can spot the engine from a long distance.
Lee said that the new truck will replace the oldest one in the fleet. He explained that the truck will go through a cycle to ensure maximum usage.
“We use it for five or six years in the busiest station and it slowly gets cycled through the fleet. That helps extend the life of the vehicle so we can get a good 20 years out of it.”
District of West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said that the truck cost taxpayers $620,148, with an additional $38,000 for equipment and tools.
“We’re a city of 28,000 people and this fire department also serves Westbank First Nation through the service agreement, so we’re looking at a population that’s roughly equivalent to the size of Vernon. We have much less equipment and manpower than Vernon does,” said Findlater.
“If the winter keeps going the way it is, all bets are off for next summer. We’ll be glad when those kinds of instances occur that we’re well equipped.”
Findlater said that WFN was not asked for capital for the new truck because they provide funds through the service agreement. According to Findlater, he’d like to eventually see more money provided to the district through that agreement.
“We appreciate the contributions from WFN. We think that those service agreements need to be reopened with the view of a little more equity for the District of West Kelowna.”