The Cariboo Regional District will remove all decals and logos from its surplus fire engines after one was spotted last weekend in a freedom rally in Victoria.
Interlakes Volunteer Fire Department Chief Todd Schley said he was notified Friday night that one of their engines had been seen in the protests, which have been running every week outside the B.C. Legislature.
“My response was ‘Oh my God, you’re kidding right?” Schley said. “I drove down to the fire hall to confirm all our trucks were stationed at the hall.”
Schley said the fire engine in question – Engine 11 – had been sold to a private citizen about two years ago. Although the emergency lights had been removed from the vehicle, the decal was still on the door. This prompted two additional emails from people concerned that Interlakes volunteer fire department logo was on the truck, he said.
“There was a concern from the general public that it was out there but it wasn’t,” he said. “It’s not a good perception. I don’t like it, it’s not good for us.”
The incident comes months after the CRD, which oversees 14 fire halls in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, came under considerable pressure from a few fire halls after imposing COVID-19 vaccinations on members.
CRD CAO John MacLean said he was disappointed to hear that an Interlakes fire engine had been seen at a freedom rally but was relieved when he saw it didn’t have its emergency lights and that the current fleet was accounted for. The Interlakes fire department has three pumpers, three tankers and a command truck at its three halls.
“People have the right to protest but I’d be disappointed to think someone would take that truck down there to discredit the CRD on the stand we made,” he said. “If it would have been one of our trucks, it would have been a bigger issue.”
MacLean noted this was the first time that the regional district has had any issues with former vehicles being used in that manner. Surplus fire engines are publicly available for sale but are usually sold to other independent fire halls, forestry and road crews.
Although the CRD has a policy in place to remove all emergency lights, it was not explicitly clear that all identifying markings had to be removed, he said.
“That was a weak spot for us and it’s going to be fixed.”
As it is an internal policy, MacLean said the changes have already been made to ensure no visible markings will be left on any future surplus vehicles for sale.
“The next time we get rid of a fire truck the decals will all be going off or someone will go down with a can of spray paint,” he said.
Victoria resident Ann Gallagher, who reached out to Black Press when she saw the fire truck at the protest said she was shocked the decals hadn’t already been removed, given the situation in Nova Scotia two years ago, when a former police car was used in multiple shootings.
She said the truck had been seen circling around the Parliament buildings on both Saturday and Sunday, interrupting a rally for peace in Ukraine.
“I was very annoyed to see this fire truck.”
She was pleased to hear it didn’t belong to the regional district as it had appeared to be.