Firefighters must be fully equipped
The issue: Emergencies
We say: Be prepared
In case of emergency, practise what you preach. This is a suggestion that could aptly be applied to the City of Meadow Lake and other surrounding communities following two recent incidents that, although entirely separate, also go hand-in-hand in so many ways.
Last week, the majority of northwest Saskatchewan experienced a power outage that, in some places, lasted more than five hours. While no major catastrophes were reported as a result, it seems the moment the lights unexpectedly go out in and around Meadow Lake, many people immediately reflect back on last June’s blackout that saw the area left without electricity for close to 17 hours. At the same time, one of the common questions overheard during outages isn’t necessarily how long there will be no power, but rather why the electricity goes out as often as it does in this part of the province.
That’s a question best left answered by SaskPower, but if there’s one thing municipal officials are known to do during a crisis is ensure everyone knows both the necessary and precautionary steps to take to best ride out any lengthy period of discomfort and inconvenience. Residents are told to make sure fuel tanks are topped up, water supplies are readily available and there’s plenty of non-perishable food around to make it through an obviously unexpected emergency situation. This is indeed sound advice, but at the same time it would be nice to see if there was more of a serious effort in place to ensure municipalities are prepared to handle their responsibilities when the stuff hits the fan.
Last week, Meadow Lake Fire and Rescue responded to a house fire at Flying Dust First Nation. While the fire was fully involved at the time of arrival – making it impossible to save the structure – fire chief Neil Marsh said blazes that occur outside of town would be much easier for firefighters to combat if the department was equipped with its own water tanker. According to Marsh, the department has never had its own tanker and has to rely on contractors with water trucks when responding to calls at Flying Dust, in the RM of Meadow Lake or in parts of the city not serviced by hydrants.
It’s one thing for people to take responsibility for their own personal safety, but it’s disheartening to know the emergency services personnel entrusted with tackling the jobs no one else can handle don’t have the tools they need to address things as effectively as they could.
The city, or perhaps a combination of the city, the RM and other communities served by the department should look into making the acquisition of a water tanker a priority for Meadow Lake Fire and Rescue. Marsh said the department continues to ask for one. Maybe it’s time to stop asking and start demanding.
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