A new fire hall built at Cluculz Lake held its grand opening on May 7. Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Fire Chief Jason Blackwell said getting a new hall for the rural fire department has been years in the making.
The new building comes with a training area and space for equipment storage. Cluculz Lake Fire Chief Nicholas Straughan said he’s excited for the added capacity having gone “from a shoe-box to a brand spanking new hall.”
“Our old fire department building was literally a one-car garage. It’s been from zero to 100 in a very short space of time,” Straughan said. “Members for the longest time scraped together the equipment through hand-me-downs or any way they could do it.”
New equipment will allow firefighters to pump directly out of the lake, keeping a continuous water supply when responding to situations at residences around Cluculz Lake. Straughan said new water tank trailers and trucks are in the works and they’re building a brand new structural protection unit trailer.
“Getting enough water to a fire is often an issue,” Straughan said.
Jerry Petersen, director of regional district area ‘F’ – Vanderhoof rural area, has been the driving force behind making the new facilities happen.
Petersen cut the ribbon at the grand opening and presented Straughan with a plaque. He said although it took a leader to keep the project moving the fire hall was a community effort.
“This is a day that we’ve been working for in this community for at least 30 years. I want to thank those who volunteered their time and effort to make this happen. It’s a community project,” Petersen said.
Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Board Chair and Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen thanked Petersen for his “unwavering” commitment to the project and for the people of the area.
“This is an accomplishment of a whole pile of people with a vision and a whole lot of work that came along with it.”
Blackwell said about a year and a half ago funding from the province through the Northern Capital and Planning Grant made the goal achievable at no cost to local taxpayers.
“We’re moving forward trying to build the service up to a better standard than what it was. This is step one,” Blackwell said.
Straughan said a big emphasis this year will be training and making sure the crew is up-to-date with their regional district certification requirements.
The department is looking at adding a new captain to lead the response direction and the district is helping them find training for in-house critical incident stress management.
“We’ve operated as a society independent of the district for a long time and members have responded to some very serious calls,” Straughan said.
“To have all the resources that the district can offer is huge for us.”
From there Straughan hopes to expand response activities by looking into new areas like wildfire training, wild-land training, and hopefully EMR or first responder training.
“It will be a little while before we are there but we are looking at what the community needs and trying to develop in those directions.”
The fire crew at Cluculz Lake now consists of roughly 12 regular volunteers from a wide variety of professional backgrounds including engineers, law enforcement and paramedics.
“We’re very lucky in the sense that we have lots of experienced people to be able to respond in a very quick fashion and there’s always somebody in-community to respond,” Straughan said.
“With the new hall will come new recruitment and a new direction. Only upward and onward from here.”