Friends in high places

Ladder truck extends rescue, suppression prowess for prairie firefighters

Randy Schulz prefers a bird’s-eye view of his work.

A new ladder truck, recently purchased by the White Butte Regional Fire Commission in south-central Saskatchewan, now gives Schulz and his area colleagues a more effective firefighting arsenal to protect a growing number of commercial high rises and three-story residential houses.

At the same time, it also increases crew safety.

“Without a ladder truck, we put guys at risk to get into a structure and get at the fire,” says Schulz, the Fire Chief of the White City Fire Department, who notes that a ladder truck creates rescue, ventilation, fire suppression and access for 10-story buildings. “The guys could stand on the ground, but they’re not particularly effective, because the water shoots straight into the air.”

Enbridge grants totalling $30,000 helped Schulz’s volunteer-run department achieve its goal. Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 Replacement Program (L3RP) contributed $20,000, while the remaining $10,000 came from Enbridge’s Safe Community program.

“This is quite a gift for the whole area. This truck brings value to White City, but it also services Emerald Park, Pilot Butte, Balgonie, Edenwold and the surrounding areas,” says Schulz, whose fire department responds to about 100 calls per year.

Originally, the commission had intended to purchase a tanker truck from a small American counterpart. Enbridge’s donation facilitated the purchase of the used tanker’s sister ladder truck, as well.

“The two trucks were built together and were meant to work together. We get the best of both worlds,” says Schulz. “Instead of purchasing new equipment, we’ve got incredibly good used equipment that only has about 35,000 miles on the odometer.

“It may be 25 years-old, but we’ll never wear it out,” he adds. “When people are bored, they google Auto Trader—I google Fire Trader.”

Enbridge’s $7.5-billion L3RP program, the largest project in Enbridge history, will present economic opportunities in communities across the prairies as we replace one of our mainline right-of-way crude pipelines from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. During its construction phase, the L3RP program is expected to contribute more than $1 billion to Saskatchewan’s Gross Domestic Product.

Our Safe Community program, meanwhile, has invested nearly $8.5 million in North American emergency responder organizations near our projects and facilities since its inception.

In mid-December, just-retired Fire Chief Darrell Liebrecht accepted a cheque from Enbridge to facilitate purchase of the ladder truck, tanker truck, and assorted safety equipment. Liebrecht’s last role as fire chief in White City was filling out the funding application—and his last standing duty was accepting the donation.

The White Butte commission’s ladder truck, meanwhile, shifted into gear on Nov. 1. “It’s the first ladder truck in the history of this fire department. As boys, we’re very excited,” chuckles Schulz.

Les Scott, a Regina-based community relations specialist for Enbridge, notes that enhancing safety of the communities near our projects and operations is an ongoing priority.

“Many small communities can’t afford equipment that increases capabilities of first responders,” says Scott. “Volunteer firefighters put in countless hours and undergo rigorous training and certification, taking time away from work and family.

“It’s important,” he adds, “for us to support organizations that help keep them—and our communities—safe.”