Langford Fire Assistant Chief Geoff Spriggs (from right) along with Capt. Lance Caven and Trevor Newnhan pack some of the donated tools and equipment into the engine the department is preparing to send to Cabo

Retired Langford fire truck to find new home in Mexico

Various pieces of equipment, supplies for orphanage, also part of delivery

An old truck is getting a new purpose.

Soon Langford Fire Rescue’s recently decommissioned engine will be on the road again, heading south to Mexico. In the fall of 2015, a five-person team went down to Cabo San Lucas as part of the department’s ambassador program.

“They had this amazing experience,” said Assistant Chief Geoff Spriggs. “Seeing the diversity of the calls they have to deal with … It’s more than just dragging a hose around and fighting fires.”

But the ambassador program isn’t just about technical training. On Saturdays the Cabo department hosts children and youth from the community. They play games and get them involved in community outreach projects. “They’re probably the best community-minded, community-spirited department I’ve seen,” Spriggs said. “We have a lot to learn from them.”

So when the topic came up last year of what to do with this old truck, council agreed to donate it to a jurisdiction in need. The Cabo department was one of the first to come to mind.

“The relationships we have are remarkable. If someone needs help we’ll try to help them,” said Langford Fire Chief Bob Beckett about the ambassador program. Of the Cabo department, he said, “They have what they call a bone yard where they take the equipment, break it down and make it work … To have a reliable piece of equipment makes all the difference.”

With that in mind, Langford Fire Rescue reached out to their Mexican counterparts and asked what types of equipment they could use. A wish list was generated and departments from Colwood to Abbotsford have chipped in, with donations ranging from medical supplies to ladders. Local community groups have also contributed hand tools and the Westshore Sunrise Rotary Club, along with the YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island and others, are sending supplies for an orphanage in the area.

But getting the fully stocked truck to Mexico is no small feat. Once word reached the Cabo department that the truck would be coming, they sprang into action trying to find ways to raise roughly $4,000 to cover fees and expenses in their country.

The department operates on what is essentially a volunteer system, with the fire chief getting paid a meagre wage through donations. Any programs, initiatives or new equipment needs are paid for through fundraising.

Langford Mayor Stew Young noted the Cabo department operates a little souvenir stand out of that hall, which provides one of their main sources of income through the sale of t-shirts, hot dogs and car washes. To ask the department to cover some of the costs and to cut that from their already overdrawn budget was unthinkable, Young said.

So, to help cover the roughly $10,000 it will cost in total to get the truck to Cabo, the City of Langford reached out to the West Shore Developers Association. Members didn’t hesitate in pulling out their chequebooks to help and raised the needed funds in no time.

The association got the fundraising ball rolling with a donation that was quickly matched or doubled by member businesses. including Westbrook Consulting, Keycorp Consulting Ltd., Limona Construction, Southpoint Partners Ltd., DB Services of Victoria Inc., Westhills Land Corp., Wensley Architecture Ltd. and Capital City Paving.

Doug Wong, a relatively new member of the association and a senior project manager with Wensley Architecture Ltd., said, “as soon as we heard about it we jumped on board … It’s a community effort.”

Association members were invited to Langford Fire Rescue last week to have one final look at the old engine before she heads on her way.

Early next month, two firefighters will drive the truck to the U.S.-Mexico border and transfer it to the Cabo department. After the truck clears customs and is at its new home, four other Langford firefighters will fly down at the end of April to do some training.

“It’s not a small amount of money to make this happen, but the result is 10-fold,” Young said. “This will be one of their nicest pieces of equipment … It’s going to make a real difference.”

This truck will be the third the City of Langford has donated to other jurisdictions.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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