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County donates fire truck to First Nations community in need

Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson presented the keys to a surplus fire truck to Firefighters Without Borders Canada directors Phil Cyr and member Christina Eggiman during a handing over ceremony with the County’s new fire chief Chad Brown, deputy fire chief Tim Kraemer and councillor Phil St.-Jean. – Sue Capon photo

On the third day of his new job, Prince Edward County’s new fire chief was pleased to witness the presentation of a surplus fire pumper/tanker heading to the Nibinamik First Nation land area known as Summer Beaver, about 500km north of Thunder Bay.

The presentation was made Wednesday at the Picton station, to Firefighters Without Borders Canada directors, who also collected a positive pressure fan, 30 sets of boots, some coveralls, flash hoods and gloves.

“I’m so pleased this is going to a great community,” said Chad Brown, the County’s new fire chief. “It was a great opportunity for us to donate to this First Nations community to be able to use this truck in a time of need. We will continue to do all we can in support of public safety.”

The truck had been listed on a government auction site with a reserve of $5,000. Its style usually sells for between that and $10,000.

Local retired firefighter Carl Eggiman and Phil Cyr, captain with the Belleville Fire Department, are directors with Firefighters Without Borders Canada. Christina Eggiman, is a member. They spotted the truck on the auction site and reached out to the municipality.

“We asked if they would consider the donation if the truck didn’t sell at the auction,” said Carl. “You never know, if you don’t ask.”

The municipality, in turn, removed the truck from the auction site to facilitate the donation, along with the other firefighting items.

“We’ve made donations of bunker gear in the past to them,” noted Tim Kraemer, Deputy Fire Chief. “This organization supports First Nations communities and countries around the world, and we thought it was an awesome opportunity to put this truck to good use.”

The Summer Beaver community, of less than 1,000 residents, did not have a fire truck and often relied on military assistance.

The 1993 Ford F700 Almonte truck with an 1100 gallon tank was last in service in the County at Cressy.

The Eggimans, and Cyr, were thrilled the community will now have “boots on the ground and can and quickly knock down any small fires”. Now the group is tasked with getting the truck there.

“It might be on a flatbed up to Thunder Bay and on another truck on the ice roads,” said Carl Eggiman. “Or, we might ask the Governor-General for help. As the commander in chief, maybe she (Mary May Simon) can help it get there by Hercules aircraft. We have worked with 8 Wing (CFB Trenton) in the past.”

Mayor Steve Ferguson and councillor Phil St.-Jean also attended the presentation.

“This council has taken great strides to develop stronger relationships with First Nations communities, particularly the Mohawks of Bay of Quinte. This vehicle is not going there because their needs are already attended to,” noted Mayor Ferguson. “This fire department in Prince Edward County has proved itself to be extraordinarily innovative, re-purposing vehicles and building them from scratch, such as the grass fire truck. It’s testament to how this vehicle would have been looked after over the years.”

The mayor was proud to present the key and ownership papers, noting the County is pleased the truck will be re-purposed and put to good use.

“This is an incredible donation by the County to Firefighters Without Borders Canada” said Carl Eggiman. “It’s the sixth vehicle being donated to a First Nations community this year. Thank you, very much.”

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  1. Ted Norris says:

    Kudos to all involved in this very generous undertaking. These kinds of efforts matter a great deal in the context of Reconciliation with Indigenous people and showing how we help one another in the spirit of community caring.
    A follow up story on how the firetruck finally gets delivered to its destination in northern Ontario – either by ice-road or Hercules aircraft would be pretty interesting also!

  2. Hannah says:

    Such a good thing! Congratulations to all involved on your thoughtfulness and consideration in helping others.

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