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Hard work pays dividends with new ladder truck for Big White Fire Department

Big White firefighters follow a century-long tradition of using human power to push their new apparatus into its fire station bay. The one-of-a-kind Ladder 311 is ready for deployment to fight structural fires at Big White. — Photo courtesy of Andrew Jay

Christmas may be over, but the Big White Fire Department is still celebrating.

The January arrival of their one-of-a-kind, 78-foot long Rosenbauer Viper Aerial ladder truck marks the end of a five-year project that started in April 2016.

Crews have now ceremonially pushed Ladder 311 into its own bay in the Big White Fire Station, marking a tradition among firefighters that pays homage to the horsedrawn steam engines that were hand maneuvered into their stations a century ago.

“This has been a long time coming and I can’t emphasize enough how pleased our whole department is to see this modern, frontline apparatus in our station ready for deployment,” said Chief Chris Cormack, Big White Fire Department.

“I have to recognize the relentless efforts of retired Chief Jamie Svendsen who kept this project going throughout his tenure here. I also want to recognize the support from Director Vicki Gee and local residents who advocated strongly for this new truck to serve the residents, businesses and visitors at Big White and in Area E/West Boundary.”

Ladder 311 has a 500 horsepower Cummins 12-litre diesel engine that can hold 1136 litres (300 gallons) of water and 114 litres (30 gallons) of fire retardant foam. Its EZ Trac® hydraulic all-wheel drive system means first responders can get to fires and other emergencies even in deep snow at the top of a mountain in winter.

“Fire protection is essential to development at Big White. The ladder truck provides the capacity to protect the taller structures that are in place as well as future development,” said Director Vicki Gee, Electoral Area E/West Boundary.

"I’ve seen the work that’s gone into planning and execution of this purchase and adjustments to the fire hall. I am so thankful to everyone who made this happen."

The new ladder truck replaces a 25-year-old fire engine and brings the total apparatus count at Big White Fire Department to one ladder truck, one engine, one rescue truck, one bush/CAFS (Compressed Air Foam System) truck and three support vehicles.