Redvers firetruck fundraising continues

June 17, 2024, 10:25 am
Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


In order to retain their offensive firefighting status and align with minimum standards set down by the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, the Redvers Volunteer Fire Department quickly identified the need for a new truck. Under the guidelines, trucks must be under the 20 years of age and the Redvers department has one that is close to aging out.

The standards placed by the SPSA may seem strict, but the impetus is not to punish volunteer fire departments, rather help them thrive, providing an atmosphere to do their critical work more safely.

“They’re there to assist you and help you move forward as well,” said Redvers Fire Chief Brad Hutton. “They want to do what’s in the best interest for all the residents, users of the highways, and obviously fire protection as well to make sure everybody’s safe.”

Municipal officials and local fire departments collectively determine which of the three service levels—defensive, offensive, and full operations - would be appropriate for their community, with Redvers aiming for the offensive level.

From a position paper written four years ago submitted to the SPSA by both the Saskatchewan Association of Fire Chiefs and the Saskatchewan Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, both group “strongly advocated” for a provincial service level. The resulting Minimum Standards Guide focusses on basic firefighting skills with future additions likely to include vehicle extrication standards and community fire prevention and mitigation activities.

Saskatchewan isn’t alone in having such standards, Manitoba, Alberta, BC, the Yukon and Ontario all have a minimum standards program, with our provincial framework using parts of the Manitoba and BC programs already in place.

“Thankfully, our fire chief and deputy chiefs have been really good at maintaining those higher standards,” said Town of Redvers CAO Tricia Pickard in a recent conversation. “We’ve always been a bit above so we’re not scrambling right now, whereas some of the other departments are going to be scrambling a little bit.”

Maintaining a safe fire department is a costly venture as turnout gear for one firefighter can easily run $3,000.

“That’s your jackets and pants, so $3,000 for that, plus probably another $1,200 to $1,500 for helmet and boots to go with it,” Hutton explained. “Each person is about $4,500 to $5,000 to be dressed.”

Another essential item is breathing apparatus, which if bought in bulk, can be obtained for $12,000 each.

“Your requirements are you need minimum eight to 12 of them,” Hutton said.

Circling back to the prompt for a new fire truck, 2025 marks the year when the current truck will be deemed too old.

“Redvers is determined to keep our current service level,” said an information sheet put out by the Town of Redvers. “Therefor, we require a new(er) fire truck. Ideally, this truck should not be older that 10 years, as to give us time to budget for the future.”

Conversely, a new truck would give a full two decades of service.

Fire trucks are not cheap, with used units ranging between $400,000 and $600,000; and a brand new truck easily hitting the million-dollar mark, ]hence the need to raise funds - and fast!

The Redvers Volunteer Fire Department is jointly funded by the Town of Redvers and RM of Antler, with both municipalities diligently budgeting, saving, and applying for grants in order to afford a new truck. To date, generous donations from Enbridge ($7,500) and the Redvers Wildlife Federation ($8,000) have been received, plus the fire department has brought in $32,000 in fundraising. Unfortunately, federal or provincial funding programs for rural fire departments do not exist currently, making those fundraising efforts even more difficult.

One creative fundraiser is this weekend’s Lobsterfest, which will see proceeds devoted to the new truck campaign.

“We’ve got 230 tickets sold for it,” Hutton said. “It’s basically a Maritime meal, so it’s a five-course, sit-down meal, and it’s all served by the firefighters ourselves.”

Held every second year, this will be the third time Redvers has hosted Lobsterfest, and Hutton noted the excitement of the big event in town.

“We’re looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s gonna be exciting.”