By Brian Cameron
RIVERTON – Pictou County firefighters gathered early Saturday morning to once again test their ability to move large volumes of water from remote water sources to emergency scenes.
This test hosted by the Eureka Fire Department would be the seventh such tests of this scale since Pictou County firefighters were the first in Eastern Canada to receive accreditation from the Canadian Insurance Under-writers (now Fire Underwriters Survey) in 1996. The accreditation meant that homeowners in some areas of the county could see a reduction in their home insurance to be more comparable to homes in areas with fire hydrants.
In addition to Eureka, fire departments from Abercrombie, Alma, Blue Mountain, Barney’s River, East River Valley, Little Harbour, Linacy, Pictou, Pictou Landing, Scotsburn, Stellarton, Thorburn, Trenton and Westville also took part in the exercise. Tankers were filled from the East River at a fill site near the St. Columbia United Church on Millstream Road. They shuttled water to a dumpsite in Riverton at the intersection of the Mark Road and Trafalgar Road near Holmes’ Pond.
“We had 14 tankers filled by pumpers from Trenton and Westville fire departments as well as two high-flow portable pumps from Alma and Eureka fire departments which were all drafting water from the river alongside the road at the fill site.”
Trucks were able to be filled, move to the dump site, dump their water and return to the fill site (approximately a 12 km round trip) in an average time of 22 minutes. In total, 98,700 gallons of water was hauled and pumped by Eureka and Pictou pumpers. Pictou’s pumper joined the pumping later in the exercise. The exercise pumped an average of 822 gallons per minute over the two-hour continuous test period. The qualification requirement is to maintain an uninterrupted minimum of 238 gallons per minute for this period as per co-ordinator Jim Fraser from Little Harbour Fire Department. The goal was to pump 400 gpm and firefighters more than doubled their goal.
This test is just one of many ways local firefighters work to protect residents. County firefighters have a long history of adapting new technology and techniques to better service the needs of their communities. In the late 80s the association invited Larry Davis from Maine, a well-known expert in rural water supply, to discuss how to better supply their firefighting needs. The main message from this training was a greater exploitation of tanker fill and emptying methods and enhanced use of portable storage tanks. Since then, departments have built and adapted their tankers to better meet the needs of water shuttles.
The Pictou County Fire Association hosts an annual fire school to provide initial and ongoing training to firefighters. Local departments also take part in training at the Provincial Fire School in Waverley, NS. Departments constantly look for new and better ways to work together such as its Regional Automatic Aid initiative introduced last February that sees multiple departments automatically respond to reports of structure fires in neighboring communities.
Brian Cameron is a member of the New Glasgow Fire Department
Eureka Firefighters set up thier engine to pump from one of the portable pumps. (Cameron photo)