One of Yarmouth County’s fire departments says it needs a new fire truck and is looking to the Municipality of Argyle for financial help in getting it.
The Quinan & District Volunteer Fire Department is asking the municipality for $125,000, with the money to be put towards the cost of a new vehicle. Preliminary cost estimates for a new truck were around $330,000, said Aaron Pottier, the Quinan & district fire chief.
The department’s two existing trucks – a pumper and tanker – are each about three decades old and “while they continue to serve their purpose, they are showing their age and are becoming less and less reliable with each passing year,” Pottier said in a presentation to Argyle municipal council. The trucks need more maintenance and parts are getting harder to find, he said.
Council said it would consider the request. Council members also suggested the municipality should look at how it funds fire departments, perhaps with a view towards changes.
For the Quinan department, while the priority is replacing its pumper, the idea is that the new truck would serve as a dual-purpose pumper/tanker. The plan also is to purchase an automatic, which would make it easier and safer to drive and would encourage more people to operate it, Pottier said.
Acknowledging that $125,000 seems like a lot of money, he asked council to consider the importance of the service the Quinan & district department provides.
“Not only does operating aging apparatus put our firefighters at risk, it also puts the community at greater risk,” Pottier said. “When the public dial 911, they expect first responders to show up with reliable, well-kept equipment to get the job done.”
The department has spent a good deal of time and effort considering its options for truck replacement, he said, and buying a new vehicle – rather than trying to find a used one – was deemed the best way to go.
He spoke a bit about the financial challenges facing the Quinan fire service. While larger departments get bigger operating grants, they also have larger tax bases, giving them more revenue through their area rates, he said. He noted that Quinan is not alone in this regard, that some of the municipality’s other fire departments have the same problem. “The tax base simply isn’t there,” he said.
While they can apply for grants to help with equipment purchases, he said, these do not cover fire trucks.
Regarding their request to the Municipality of Argyle for $125,000, Pottier suggested a couple of options for the municipality should it approve the request. The municipality could give the money in one sum, thus reducing the amount of the loan the fire department would need to get, he said, or it could give the money over time by increasing the Quinan department’s operating grant by $10,416 per year over a 12-year period (which would equal $125,000).
Aside from the need for a new truck, Pottier said the Quinan & District Volunteer Fire Department is in pretty good shape. Established in 1981, the department currently has 31 members.
“We have a very dedicated team,” Pottier said, “and as far as I’m concerned, the communities of Quinan and Springhaven have never been better protected from a personnel and training point of view.”