Nanaimo Fire Rescue rolled out its new rides that the public will see responding to emergencies.
A pair of Pierce pumper trucks arrived in Nanaimo in February and firefighters have been training on them since. The apparatuses are expected to enter service with Nanaimo Fire Rescue stations No. 1 and No. 2, Nanaimo’s busiest fire stations, to replace trucks that entered service in the mid 1990s and late 2000s.
The trucks were purchased at a cost of $996,000 each, a price that includes all equipment to put them into service, such as hoses, nozzles, thermal imaging cameras, electrical equipment, hand and power tools, and other items used in daily emergency operations. They are fitted with new technology to cut down on fuel consumption and design features that improve firefighter safety and efficiency and allow firefighting in tighter urban spaces.
The trucks also enter service at a time when fuel costs are $2 a litre. The vehicles were ordered with idle reduction technology, which shuts down the trucks’ engines and runs their electrical systems on batteries. The system automatically starts the main engines when high power is needed for pumping water and driving or when the batteries run low and need recharging. The system could cut fuel costs by as much as 40 per cent.
“It’s definitely a lower emissions footprint, lower fuel usage, lower noise and lower engine wear,” said Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief Tim Doyle. “So there is a lot of good benefits. They’re our first two engines with this technology.”
The apparatuses – built by Pierce Manufacturing Inc., in Appleton, Wis. – also represent a further step in operational standardization, which Nanaimo Fire Rescue has moved toward over the past decade. Firefighters had input into the trucks’ design and operating features, which has become standard practice within Nanaimo Fire Rescue when purchasing new equipment.
“What that strengthens in our department is a level of familiarity and operator use, because our firefighters aren’t always at the same station,” Doyle said. “So it allows them to be transferred from station to station and hop on a similar piece of equipment so that they’re performing at the highest level at the incident.”
Doyle said fire trucks have an average 25-year operational life.
“For the first 15 years they move into front line and then for the next five they move into backup and then for the last part they can move into a reserve capacity,” the chief said. “So that’s how cities our size replace fire engines.”
The machines are designed to be extremely durable. Each vehicle weighs about 27,000 kilograms and must endure the rigours of delivering high performance while responding under heavy loads in all weather conditions. Nanaimo’s fire trucks are ordered with engines that can deliver adequate power to respond quickly in Nanaimo’s hilly terrain.
Nanaimo’s fire trucks are also responding to emergencies with higher frequency. Doyle said fire trucks once racked up about 250,000 kilometres in 20 to 25 years, but newer trucks have hit that mileage in half that time.
Firefighting technology and costs to buy it have changed drastically since Nanaimo Fire Rescue – formerly Black Diamond Engine Co. – purchased its first horse-drawn fire apparatus in 1878 for $700. Nanaimo’s first pair of self-powered fire trucks, described in the purchase agreement as “combination cemical engine and hose motor cars” were purchased from American LaFrance in 1913 for a $14,740 and came with a simple caustic soda fire suppression system. Nanaimo Fire Rescue maintains one of the trucks in its museum.
The paint schemes and graphics on the new Pierce pumpers are a nod to Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s Black Diamond Engine Co. heritage and draw from the original 1878 colours and graphics.
Both trucks go into service Monday, March 14.