Highlands residents now have one more reason to rally behind their fire department.
With a recently acquired second tender truck now in operation, the Highlands Fire Department passed the Superior Shuttle Accreditation (SSA) test earlier this month – despite the snow – which means all Highlands residents will receive a letter for their insurance company that should help lower residents’ fire insurance costs. Most insurance underwriters recognize the SSA as the equivalent to pressurized hydrants.
“I’m so proud of our Highlands firefighters,” said Mayor Ken Williams. “Notices for better insurance rates will be coming soon.”
The only “pressurized” hydrants in the Highlands, according to the District’s website, are in the Hannington subdivision (not on CRD water), the industrial park and two hydrants on Millstream Road between Industrial Way and Hannington Road. All other hydrants in the district are not functional as pressurized hydrants.
To achieve the SSA, the department had to prove, at a mock fire scene, that they could provide 200 gallons per minute of water flow, for two continuous hours with no interruption. The water has to come from a certified water source five kilometres away.
To do that, Highlands council approved the purchase of a second tender last year, which has a 2,000-gallon capacity (or 10 minutes of water supply). The new truck is stationed at the West Hall and provides more firefighting capabilities for homes in that area.
The department originally had one tender, a 2,500-gallon capacity truck stationed at the East Fire Hall. That truck allowed for approximately 12-and-a-half minutes of water flow at that required pressure (if no water was spilled during the drive to a scene). The time it takes the tender to drive to a water source, fill up and dump is approximately 15 minutes, meaning the department would run out of water before the tender could make a round trip on its own.
However, when combined, the two trucks more than met the criteria during the test, Williams said. “They totally exceeded what they needed to do,” he said, noting the test was called off early because the department was so successful.
Fire Chief Dean Ford added the department completed the test on the first attempt.
“This has been a major accomplishment for the department and the district,” he said, noting it took almost four years to complete and an extreme amount of dedication and training from firefighters. “And, of course, a council that was willing to invest in the necessary steps and equipment required.”
He continued, “With this new accreditation and the steps required to accomplish this feat, the district and its residents now have a water tender in each fire hall, a post-disaster building on each side of the Highlands, nine certified water sources for firefighting – and every house in the Highlands is now eligible for a fire insurance rate equivalent to having a fire hydrant in front of their home.”