The Bienfait Fire Department is looking to bolster its fleet of firefighting equipment.
The department has started fundraising for a new wildland firefighting unit, which would provide the department with easier access to fight grass fires.
Daniyale Lalonde, who is a member of the Bienfait Fire Department and the chairperson of the fundraising committee, said the department had more calls than normal last year, and many of those dispatches were for grass fires. The fire department is responsible for calls within town limits and the RM of Coalfields, but it also responds to calls through mutual aid in other municipalities.
“A lot of the times, we just can’t take our big trucks into places that we need to get to, to put out a grass fire,” said Lalonde.
If they were to take a truck to a grass fire site, it would risk damaging the unit.
Among the calls last year was a powerful grass fire south of Frobisher that scorched a large area and required a response from six fire departments in Canada and five from the U.S. While it’s not the only reason for seeking a wildland apparatus, Lalonde said it was a good reminder that this unit was needed.
“There were a lot of fire departments involved, and there really weren’t a lot of those wildland units that could get to those kinds of places,” said Lalonde.
A cost for the equipment has yet to be finalized. The department is still looking at how they would build it and the prices. They’re looking at anywhere from $100,000 at the low end to over $300,000 for something with “all the bells and whistles,” Lalonde said.
They hope to purchase a unit for about $120,000, but they have to follow national standards for such a unit.
“We need to have a certain kind of tires that aren’t going to catch on fire and they’re not going to puncture. We need a certain chassis and we need a lot of things that just have to be up to code to go with their standards,” said Lalonde.
Everybody on the department would also need to learn how to operate it.
Several fundraisers have started or will be happening soon. Bienfait Fire is registered as a drop and go option with SARCAN. People can drop their recycling off at any SARCAN depot in the province and ask that the money be donated to the fire department.
A bottle drive will happen on March 13, starting at noon. Bienfait residents are asked to have their recycling on their front step or driveway before noon. Department members will collect the materials.
A raffle will follow on April 3, with more details to be announced at a later date.