Lessons from Port Lambton Fire - St. Clair Township invests in mobile fire unit
Lessons from Port Lambton Fire - St. Clair Township invests in mobile fire unit - St. Clair Township’s fire chief believes a new mobile unit will make the fire department more efficient.
When Chief Roy Dewhirst reviewed last year’s major marina fire with the township’s council, he listed positive aspects of the department’s response as well as aspects that could have used some improvement.
Among the positives that he identified were the lack of injuries, the fact that the fire didn’t spread to nearby buildings, and a positive relationship between all the teams working together at the site.
But the list of negatives was equally long, and Dewhirst had a recommendation for improvements, which council recently approved.
To help make firefighters more comfortable and more efficient, the fire department will be purchasing an air compressor, a portable washroom, and a hand and eye wash station to assemble into a mobile trailer unit.
“Any time we expect to be there (on a call) for an extended length of time – say, two hours or more – the trailer will come out,” said Dewhirst.
During the Dec. 20 blaze at a Port Lambton marina, firefighters went through 230 air bottles in 17 hours.
“The bottles generally last 20 to 30 minutes each, so it doesn’t take long to go through them,” explained the fire chief.
“And we had to fill the bottles 20 at a time in Courtright.”
Each time a truck took the 20-kilometre trip, there was a chance that something could go wrong, he said. And on site, as the supply of fresh air bottles dwindled and the truck hadn’t yet returned, things could get a little tense.
The supply truck always returned before air supplies ran out, so efforts weren’t hampered, but having the ability to fill air bottles on site would make things much more efficient in the future, said Dewhirst.
During the incident, another nearby marina opened its public washrooms to the firefighters, but it would be nice to be able to provide washrooms.
“We need that facility.”
Finally, the firefighters were supplied with refreshments and meals, “but there was no place for them to properly clean up.”
Most gave their hands a quick rinse from the hose, which eliminated the “heavy gunk,” but they were advised not to eat the parts of the food that they had actually touched.
So Dewhirst recommended that the mobile unit also have a hand and eye wash station.
Commercially, a unit with all of these features isn’t available.
“So we’re going to buy the pieces and assemble it ourselves.”
The department is currently pricing out the separate equipment pieces. It is expected to cost about $100,000 in total, which is coming out of the department’s equipment replacement budget.
Since there are already air compressors in both Courtright and Corunna, the plan is to store the trailer in Wilkesport.
Dewhirst expects the unit will be complete by the fall.
“That was part of the final recommendation – to get this put into action immediately.”