Fire department not asking for extra rescue training

Ryan Ross
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Paving work on the "Plan B" highway re-alignment in Bonshaw.

North River Fire Department's chief won't be asking the province for special training to deal with accidents on the steep slopes of the Trans-Canada Highway realignment known as Plan B.

Last week Chief Kirby Wakelin told the media he might ask the provincial government for special training for firefighters who may have to respond to accidents if vehicles go through guard rails along elevated sections of the highway.

In an interview with The Guardian on Monday, Wakelin said he won't be asking for extra training because all of the firefighters within his group are high-angle trained and prepared for accidents on the steep slopes.

"All ready to go," he said.

In order to reduce the grade on the new highway, construction crews built up parts of the roadbed leaving elevated areas with steep slopes dropping off to the sides.

Those sections are lined with guardrails to help keep vehicles from leaving the road and crashing to the bottom of the hills in case of an accident.

Wakelin said the chance of someone going over the side of the road is low on the straight stretches and the guardrails add a level of protection.

"As far as I'm concerned the government has done more than its share," he said.

Even with the steep slopes, Wakelin said the fire department has all of the equipment it needs for potential rescues, including ropes, harnesses and all-terrain vehicles.

"We don't need anything else," he said.

Transportation Minister Robert Vessey said he didn't have any concerns about vehicles driving off the road in the elevated sections.

"There's lots of highways across the country with embankments a lot steeper than that," he said.

As for the highway's progress, Vessey said the department hopes to open the new section from the Bonshaw Bridge heading east over a temporary road onto the paved section of the alignment by the end of this week or the weekend.

That section will run to the Riverdale Road before joining the old highway for several weeks until the highway opens up to the former Encounter Creek property, he said.

Traffic will be down to one lane as necessary while work is completed.

Vessey said a temporary road will be used near the Encounter Creek property until the old section of highway is removed and everything connected.

"Right now I'd say we have 65 per cent of the paving or 70 per cent of the paving done," he said.

That leaves the province aiming to have everything open by around the middle of October, Vessey said.

"It's been going quite well. We've had great weather."

Organizations: North River Fire Department, Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Riverdale Road

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Recent comments

  • Brenda
    September 19, 2013 - 14:41

    I read these same news items and also saw Compass. What I saw and heard was news people trying to make a big issue out of nothing. Wakelin stated that they MAY need training and on Compass he said that the gov't had done a great job safety wise on the road. When we want to find fault I guess we will find it no matter what.

  • Cogsdale
    September 17, 2013 - 13:52

    Seems fire chief Wakelin had a little talking to since he flip-flopped so quickly on this training. No bad publicity wanted for this project! It has had plenty already and well-warranted I might add. It is still as big, dumb and wasteful as ever.

  • Grace MacDonald
    September 17, 2013 - 13:11

    Unless you are a transportation engineer I don't give much weight to your comments about safety. BUT!! Why is this Fire Chief changing his tune, last week he stated his department needed training (see article below) now he's recanting. Who set him straight?

  • joe blow
    September 17, 2013 - 10:32

    He's contradicting himself. Read the original story: I don't feel embankment is a safety issue. I firmly believe this new road is safer and justifiable....but I find it interesting the Fire Chief is singing a new tune.

  • XComa
    September 17, 2013 - 08:04

    There is a much better chance of being seriously injured on the Highways in Bonshaw now... Wait till the Snow comes; this will be a Nasty stretch of Highway...

  • They'll Never Admit
    September 17, 2013 - 07:16

    They have wasted so much on that unnecessary project. It makes my blood boil every time I see it, or read about it. This government will never get my vote again. And what's with these contradicting stories? One day all the silt is running into the streams and the next day it's Yeo saves the day. First the fire dept. needs training, now they're all super hero trained. Has the media been "told" by the great and powerful Ghiz?

  • I told you so
    September 17, 2013 - 06:55

    There will be no rescue operation when an accident happens on the new Plan B highway, it will be "recovery mode" only.

  • mitigation myopia
    September 17, 2013 - 06:48

    Wow. If Plan B has given Islanders anything , it's insight into the pandering propaganda that passes for journalism - not only in The Guardian, but in the local CBC as well. Thankfully, most Islanders are intelligent enough know that the whole project and all the problems it generates is a needless, useless waste. Saying that the North River Fire Department doesn't need special training to deal with the steep slopes of the new road is like saying doctors don't need more training to deal with the victims of a chemical spill . Of course they have the training - we all know that's not the story. The story is what causes the potential problem! Let's face it, the problem of "steep slopes" didn't exist before Plan B was built. The way this story is presented, now Islanders are supposed to be happy that our firefighters and doctors are ready to deal with accidents should they happen!

  • Sadie
    September 17, 2013 - 04:59

    I thought the purpose of installing this road is to do away with road areas that were deemed dangerous. This new road looks more treacherous that what the public had to deal with before. Thanks so much mr. premier for forcing this on us and leaving us with a huge debt in the end.

    • Bonshaw Resident
      September 17, 2013 - 07:07

      How can you determine the safety of the new road based on a news article? Have you been secretly driving on it? You would think from the articles and comments that this is some huge super highway going through Bonshaw. It sounds like some of the craziness that came from the debate over the Confession Bridge - at least that was a billion dollar project.

    • New Haven Resident
      September 17, 2013 - 09:45

      @bonshaw resident, give your head a shake! There are many people driving on parts of the new highway looking at the progress.

    • Let's get this story back on the road . . .
      September 18, 2013 - 07:57

      We are all being sucked into the safety argument / scam. The real story is not that the new road is safe or not, it's that the old road is safe enough, it just needed some adjustments. Certainly. the even better story is how the 30+ million dollars is being smuggled into the hands of a major political supporter!