There’s a shiny new truck in Bienfait.
Residents received their first glimpse of the town’s new fire truck when it was first unveiled at the Canada Day parade in Bienfait. The Bienfait Fire Department’s recently purchased truck was brought into Canada just days before that at the end of June.
Engine 4 is not yet in service, but Brian Smyth, Bienfait’s fire chief, said that if they needed it, they could send it to a fire.
The search for the new truck sent them looking at about 500 trucks online before finding the one they wanted. He and two others went down to Port Neches, Texas to look at the truck. The small city is just north of the Gulf of Mexico near the Louisiana border.
“We had a look at the truck, and it was spotless, and it was clean,” said Smyth. “It wasn’t the only one we had picked out. There was another one at the same fire hall sitting right next to it. We spent five minutes looking at it and five hours looking at this one. This was the better deal, and it was their front line truck.”
The truck with a 750-gallon tank was well looked after, with low mileage and low hours on it. Almost new, said Smyth. The truck is a 1999, although when they went down to Texas, they thought they would be looking at a 1998 truck because it was advertised as such. It wasn’t until they got to customs heading back into the country that they realized it was one year newer.
Smyth noted it has five self-contained breathing apparatus seats and it allows them to haul all their firefighters inside with equipment as well.
“It has a huge pump on it, that we probably didn’t need anything that size, but when you’re shopping used, you take what you can get.”
After bringing the truck to Canada, they immediately got the vehicle safetied and installed the decals on it.
The fire department’s older trucks are hovering around 40 years, so the new wheels are very welcome to the 14 firefighters currently serving the town of Bienfait.
Smyth noted that it isn’t just that the vehicle is newer and has fewer miles on it, but that the equipment is a big step forward in technology. Their old truck pumped water at 500 gallons per minute, while the new one pumps 2,000 gallons in that time.
The truck was left with about $30,000 to $35,000 worth of equipment on it. The Port Neches department left hose, nozzles and valves.
“This city had two fire trucks that they were trading in on one new truck, so they had an extra set of equipment. I just asked the fire chief if he wouldn’t mind leaving what he doesn’t want on the truck and sending it to us. There’s probably $25,000 worth of hose,” said Smyth, adding that, “They actually took it out of service early to give it to us, because Port Neches was having a new truck built.”
It means they don’t have to buy the equipment, which is specific to that truck.
The fire department has no immediate plans to take any of their older trucks out of service but said eventually that is the plan.
“Eventually they’ll all be retired or pensioned off,” said Smyth. “What we need with this is about a 2,500 or 3,000-gallon tanker that we’ll have to work on down the road. That’s because we have some areas in town that aren’t serviced by fire hydrants, so we need that water supply.”
The truck was bought for $105,000, and there are also some other costs for shipping to the border and going through customs. Smyth takes some pride in the fact that the truck is paid for entirely through donations, not taxpayer dollars.
Brian’s wife Candy is part of the six-person fundraising committee, and they are continuing to raise funds, with about $35,000 still needed to cover all of the costs.
On Aug. 8, there will be an outdoor drive-in theatre at the soccer fields on the east side of town. Gainer the Gopher will be attending the screening of We Bought A Zoo.
“It’s a family event,” she said. “There will be raffle tables, auction items. There will be games for the kids beforehand.”
There will also be some cars from Estevan Motor Speedway.
So far they’ve raised about $87,000 and are waiting for a grant to come in for $15,000. They are now selling tickets for a three-month daily lottery draw beginning Oct. 1 until the end of December. Tickets can be purchased from any member of the fire department, the fire auxiliary, Spectra Credit Union and the town office.