PORT AUX BASQUES – The Channel-Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department is anticipating delivery of its new four door pumper truck in late September according to Fire Chief Jerry Musseau. The department had been applying for an upgrade to its 30-year old pumper truck for the past eight to ten years and was granted approval by the provincial government last spring.
The last time the fire department got a new truck there was a ceremony at the fire hall, but with COVID-19 Musseau concedes that is unlikely to happen this time around. He also doesn’t know if the town’s annual Christmas parade, which is hosted by the fire department, and where Santa and Mrs. Claus ride the pumper truck, will even be permitted to take place this year.
Over the summer, the fire department also hired five new firefighters to bring its complement back to its usual 35-member crew. Usually the fire department runs a two-day defensive training program sometime in the spring, but because of the pandemic regulations that training has not yet been completed. Musseau hopes to get the new recruits through the program before the new truck arrives.
“They’ve got to spend two full days – one day in the class and one day in the field,” says the Chief. “Now that we’re down to a Level 2, we’re hoping in the next little while to get that done.”
Until recently, the firefighters weren’t even allowed to enter their own fire hall unless they had to roll out for an emergency and they had to suspend their regular training. In order to protect against possible Coronavirus transmission, responding to calls means wearing their full face masks before even getting into the fire trucks.
“Thank God we didn’t have a lot of calls,” says Musseau.
Also still in the works is the department’s new smokehouse. Outside of the unforeseeable pandemic delays, the structure’s design is still undergoing changes and cost estimates as some materials are proving tricky to source.
“We haven’t finalized a plan of exactly what we want,” says Musseau. “We wanted something with cinderblock but apparently there’s nobody we can find who can come back and say the price to do a cinderblock house. We’re searching for other ideas.”
Once the plans are finalized, the new smokehouse will be constructed at the current training site which houses some old railcars. The cars will have to be removed and the ground landscaped before construction can even begin, which naturally affects the project’s overall budget.
Anyone who wants to submit their name to the list of candidates for the fire department are encouraged to pick up an application at the town office. Musseau says that the most important thing to keep in mind in that becoming a volunteer firefighter is the time required to train and to serve.
“It’s a big commitment to become a firefighter.”