Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire Department has secured a practice facility just half a mile from its locale, thanks to a new lease agreement with Timber West.
“This is a huge gain for a small department like ours,” said MLVFD fire chief Gary Eve. “It gives us a chance to practise being fire fighters in a safe, controlled environment.”
It was MLVFD fire fighter Casey Van Dalen who came up with the idea of using the vacant land at the corner of the Pacific Marine Circle Route and South Shore Road in Mesachie Lake.
“I phoned the Timber West office to make sure it was doable,” Van Dalen said, “and when the office said, yes – it’s doable – I phoned Gary and said Gary, I’ve got an idea…”
From there, it was a question of getting the CVRD to jump on board. Eve contacted the CVRD’s public safety manager, Sybille Sanderson, to run it by her. Happily, Sanderson found the idea “doable” as well.
Three MLVFD fire fighters — Eve, Van Dalen, and a recent recruit, Paul Zalinko — met with Sanderson and Timber West communications manager Sue Handel on Feb. 13 to visit the site together.
“We’re always trying to find ways to support the fire departments,” Sanderson said of the lease agreement and the future potential it provides for the fire fighters.
Eve says having access to the gated facility will allow them to practise skills such as burning, water streams, pumping water, drop tanks and using tankers and auto extrication.
“It’s leading into the direction that we’re going right now which is working on large diameter water supply and we need a place to practise that,” Eve said. “When we start running 1,000 feet of four-inch hose in front people’s properties, we’re blocking them in their homes.”
The department’s locale is in a residential section of Mesachie Lake, whereas the site of the former logging camp offices provides a gated area of about seven or eight acres. It has now been leased in a formal agreement between MLVFD, the CVRD and Timber West.
In addition, MLVFD will use the space conjointly with Honeymoon Bay’s fire department, which means that both fire departments can train on the spot.
“We enter into agreements like this when they are a good fit for us and a good fit for the other party,” explained Handel. “We make sure the details meet basic insurance requirements, which obviously they do, and beyond that it’s just a win for both parties.”
“We have a gentleman next door who has lined up a car for us that we will use to practise our auto extrication,” he said. “And we’d like to make a tower so we can practise dragging hoses upstairs.”
Like the fire chiefs who came before him in Mesachie Lake, Eve is always on the lookout for ways to achieve what the fire department needs to operate.
“Whether it’s finding large trucks for a low price,” he said, “or this opportunity for a working facility, MLVFD has always pushed forward.”