Fire Services gets wildfire fighting equipment for summer 

Chief hopes to engage residents in dialogue about fire prevention

Whistler Fire Rescue Services will have another tool this summer to help them in the fight against wildfires.

The $300,000 Compressed Air Foam System fire apparatus should be added to the Whistler fleet by June, in time for wildfire season.

"The easiest way to describe it is it produces soap bubbles," explained Fire Chief Bruce Hall.

"It puts together what’s called a Class A firefighting foam and water and mixes it. By doing that we can actually paint buildings or paint trees with the foam and that will allow us to provide a fire break.

"Needless to say, if the fire is immense it’s not going to last very long but it will allow us some breathing time."

The system can also be used to actually fight fires.

"It’s designed for firefighting in general," said Hall.

He explained that the apparatus wouldn’t be the primary truck to respond to a house fire but it could be used to coat the trees around the house with foam to stop the fire from spreading.

On Monday morning council approved $60,000 for the cab and chassis portion of the system.

Council members had delayed making a decision on the fire apparatus at the last council meeting because they wanted staff to look into giving the money to a local auto company rather than a company in the Lower Mainland, which actually had the lowest bid.

Metro Motors bid $59,936 and Sea to Sky Ford bid $60,518 for the cab and chassis.

Council was inclined to give the bid to the local company because the difference in the bids was roughly $600.

"It would certainly be my preference to shop locally," said Councillor Gordon McKeever.

Ultimately the bid went to Metro Motors because legally if the company meets the requirements of the tender, it has to go to the lowest bidder.

Hall said the tender for the second section of the truck has just been sent out to fire apparatus manufacturers.

This piece of equipment has been on the books in the municipality’s Five Year Capital Plan and is not a result of the devastating wildfires that roared through B.C. last summer said Hall.

He said there haven’t been many changes in Whistler since last summer when more than 2,500 wildfires forced the evacuation of 45,000 residents, mainly in the Interior.

"A lot of what we’re doing we actually started two years ago," said Hall.

Whistler Fire Rescue Services has been following the recommendations in a document called A Wildland Fire Strategy.

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