New fire pole gives Esquimalt firefighters an edge

Pole's reinstallation marks a return to tradition for department

Esquimalt firefighter Pete Vanbuskirk prepares to slide down the department's newly reinstalled fire pole. Firefighters applaud the return to the past

Firefighter Pete Vanbuskirk slips down the length of a fire pole and disappears through a hole in the floor.

He lands on a soft mat, just steps away from where a fire truck is parked on the ground floor of the Esquimalt fire hall.

Meanwhile, firefighter Andrew Zado’s heavy footfalls can be heard as he pounds down two flights of stairs toward the same destination.

“Andrew is not even out the door (to the staircase) and Pete’s already waiting for him (downstairs),” Assistant Fire Chief George McGregor says.

Vanbuskirk has easily won the race, demonstrating the precious seconds the smoke eaters are saving thanks to the $1,100 installation of a new fire pole at Esquimalt’s Public Safety building about a month ago.

For firefighters, every second counts when they are called to fires, medical emergencies, automobile accidents and other potentially life-and-death situations.

“Our reaction times are important to us to the point where we keep a stopwatch in the truck,” says McGregor. “So this helps us get the boys out.”

The brass pole is also safer to use than the stairs, he says, noting the risk that comes when a group of people rush down the stairs.

The fire pole marks Esquimalt Fire Rescue’s return to tradition.

The team used a pole until 2002, when it was removed prior to the separation of the Esquimalt police and fire department in 2003. The small upstairs room where firefighters got onto the pole was reconfigured into office and storage space, and the hole in the floor was sealed.

“It’s common for fire halls where the living quarters are upstairs to have a fire pole,” says Esquimalt Fire Chief Dave Ward. The former Saanich fire chief says the Saanich Fire Department’s main hall on Vernon Avenue has two poles.

Esquimalt’s fire pole is also sure to delight preschool and elementary school children when they tour the hall.

“The youngsters that come to the fire hall for tours expect a fire pole,” Ward says. “What’s a fire hall without a fire pole?”

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Three arrested in Sooke drug bust

RCMP targeted traffickers in fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine

Police hand site of former hotel destroyed by fire back to owners

Caretaker still unaccounted for, investigation continues in wake of May 6 blaze

More than 2,700 units of affordable homes underway in Greater Victoria

Units part of 20,000 that are underway in B.C.

Bay Centre gets new 20,000 sq. ft. Winners this summer

As part of their re-merchandising program

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Vancouver woman sexually assaulted after man follows her home; suspect at large

Police are looking for an Asian man in his 40s after the incident on Vancouver’s east side.

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parent’s cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

Most Read