The Castlegar Fire Department has been having a busy year and the department’s call volume totals reflect the growing demand for their services.
As of the end of October, the department had been out on 665 calls — 32 more then the same time period last year.
“The city is busier, it is growing a little bit, there is more traffic on the roads,” explained fire chief Sam Lattanzio.
Beyond attending fires, the department acts as first responders for medical calls, provides rescue services, attends motor vehicle accidents, hazardous materials incidents and false alarms. They also conduct fire inspections throughout the city and attend numerous public service events including fire education in local schools.
One category that has increased is motor vehicle accidents, but Lattanzio says that is more due to 2018 being a good year for accidents, instead of 2019 being a bad year.
“Construction on Columbia Avenue in 2018 actually reduced the number of accidents we normally see on that stretch of road,” he explained.
One set of statistics has left Lattanzio very thankful — there haven’t been any aircraft-related calls to the West Kootenay Regional Airport in years.
“We have been very lucky in that category,” said Lattanzio.
All of those calls have added up to a lot of wear and tear on the department’s command vehicle. The truck is used to respond to all emergency scenes and for conducting fire inspections. The 2003 Dodge Durango has been making a lot of visits to the mechanic’s shop lately and had to be towed recently after a major component failed. Its electrical system is also showing signs of failure.
City council is moving forward with an early budget approval of a replacement ahead of the city’s 2020 budget being finalized in order for the new vehicle to be ordered as soon as possible.
Lattanzio says the required vehicle is specialized to meet the demands of emergency services and will take about four months from order to delivery. Along with better braking and a heavy duty suspension, the vehicle needs to meet national fire protection standards and have lights, radios and decals installed.
The city has budgeted $60,000 for the vehicle.
The fire department is also waiting for delivery on a 2020 Rosenbauer all-wheel drive pumper rescue vehicle they ordered in January 2019. It is expected to arrive in April.