The days of saving foundations is long gone, but town Fire Chief Mark Gotell couldn’t resist the old firefighter’s joke during a presentation here to benefit three rural fire departments with new equipment.
“There was a time when firemen had nothing but hip waders and gloves and we looked more like fishermen than ready to fight a fire,’’ said Gotell, joking about saving foundations. “Now many of us are fortunate to have equipment where we don’t just fight the fire externally, but internally as well.”
The province was announcing an investment of $42,000 to upgrade protective gear at fire departments in Georgetown, Murray River and Vernon River.
Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development Minister Ron MacKinley officially announced the funding in the presence of fire chief Gotell along with counterparts Leroy Connaghan of Vernon River and Troy Ferguson of Murray River.
Gotell said each fireman requires about $2,000 worth of equipment these days and there are sometime 25 to a department.
“That adds up for a small community and we just couldn’t afford these items on our own,’’ said Chief Troy Ferguson.
MacKinley recalled two incidents over the years where the North River fire department helped save a tractor and a barn on his property.
“Volunteer firefighters provide an essential service to their communities and contribute to the well-being and security of residents,” he said. “These are people we can’t do without and who volunteer their time night and day.”
The Island Community Fund is sharing the cost of bunker gear, electrical monitoring equipment and new portable radios with the Georgetown department, bunker gear, fire retardant coveralls, breathing apparatus, and other items cost shared with Murray River, and a contribution to the Vernon River department to purchase new firefighter protective gear.