MEDICINE HAT, AB -- CFB Suffield introduced its brand new T-REX firetruck to the base and surrounding area fire services on Thursday.
They hosted a housing ceremony for the truck, which included wetting it down, and symbolically pushing it into the station.
The 80,000 pound piece of equipment is one of the most powerful firetrucks on the base. It’s capable of handling both offensive and defensive fires, and it’s capable of aerial rescues using its 115 ft. boom.
“This is only truck that we have that provides us aerial access to buildings with multiple stories,” says Eric Schweitzer, base fire chief at CFB Suffield. “It provides us significant rescue capability as well as support for fire suppression response on base.”
This is the result of a federal initiative to spend $18.7 million on nine new firetrucks for military bases across the country.
The vehicles were procured to fight fires on military bases surrounded by ammunition and fuel containment areas.
The funding was first announced in December 2017, meant to replace some current vehicles that have been in use since the mid 1990’s.
In addition, the truck won’t just be staying at Suffield, it’s a resource that’s available to fire stations across Southeastern Alberta.
Fire representatives from surrounding areas like Cypress County, County of Newell, Redcliff and Taber were present at the ceremony.
“This helps out everybody,” says Kelly Meyer, Cypress County fire chief. “It’s a resource that we can call upon if they’re not tasked out and just making better connections.”
“If we were called upon to assist and this capability was required we certainly would be there to provide that assistance,” says Schweitzer.
A partnership that would be needed if there was ever a repeat of the catastrophic Bindloss grass fire in September 2017.
That fire began on Suffield’s base when a military ordinance exploded, sparking a blaze that burned 90,000 acres of land and killed 160 head of cattle.
However, according to Schweitzer, the truck won’t be used to fight grass fires.
“This is primarily for structural type firefighting response and it would only be used just on the base itself or to assist our neighbours if needed,” he says.
The truck will prevent structure fires on the base from getting out of control.
Efforts to improve the ability to fight grass fires are still ongoing on the base. A new vehicle is coming in July that will be able to do just that.
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