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Firefighters to elevate their services

Dez Loreen
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, April 03, 2008

INUVIK - Inuvik firefighters will soon have a much-needed hand in hard-to-reach blazes.

The town has purchased a $750,000, 75-foot ladder truck. It will arrive this summer.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

This was the scene in 2004 after Samuel Hearne school was set on fire by a student. During the blaze, volunteer firefighters used a zoom boom lift to reach the upper area of the fire. A fireman lost a piece of his pinky finger in the incident. The fire department has now purchased a new fire truck with a 75-foot ladder. - NNSL file photo

The apparatus will be added to the fleet in the fire hall, with the old pumper truck being sold to the highest bidder.

The money raised by the selling of the old pumper truck will go to a new rescue unit for the fire hall.

Fire Chief Al German said he has wanted a ladder truck since he started with the department 10 years ago.

According to German, the department has been replacing its old vehicles and equipment continuously over the last decade.

"We want to replace all of our old trucks and this is the last pumper," he said.

German said since the Inuvialuit building was erected nearly 10 years ago, it has been a priority of the firefighters to be able to reach any fire in town.

"The buildings are getting bigger and we need to be ready for anything," said German.

In 2004, when Samuel Hearne school was set on fire, firefighters had to respond to a fire they couldn't reach.

German said a passing boom truck was borrowed and used to help firefighters reach the higher levels of the fire.

During that incident that a firefighter lost a portion of his pinky finger when it was pinched between the bucket and the building.

Deputy Fire Chief Julie Miller said a proper ladder would have prevented the injury.

"We had to use what we had at the time," said Miller of the boom truck.

"We had no alternative."

The present alternative is a 40-foot ladder that weighs 250 pounds.

"It takes a lot of manpower to move that around and put in place," she said.

Miller said getting a ladder truck was necessary for the local department.

"People might not think that the expenditure is needed, but saving one life is worth the money spent," she said.

"You never know what will happen, it's why they are called emergencies, you never expect it."

The rescue unit is the next apparatus to update.

"Our current rescue unit is over 10 years old and it's too small for our needs," said German.

Miller added the rescue unit is used by personnel during a fire in cold conditions.

"It's a place to get out of the elements, it's also where we change and replace our air tanks," she said.

The ladder truck is expected to arrive in town for the Fire Hall's celebration day on July 22.

"We're hosting a community barbecue and want to unveil it then to show it off," said German.