McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. training officer Gary Rourke (left) and Fire Chief Ian Hicks at an MVI-caused fire last Saturday on Highway 97 north of Williams Lake. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

McLeese Lake Fire Dept. need for hall heightened

Pumper trucks have to be parked outside, giving thieves easier access

A recent theft of gas from two of its pumper trucks is a reminder the McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. needs a fire hall, said Chief Ian Hicks.

“With no building, the big fire trucks have to stay outside,” Hicks told the Tribune Tuesday. “We do have a very nice lady in McLeese Lake who lends us her garage, but it only fits the ambulance and the small fire truck.”

On Saturday, June 2, when the department responded to an MVI-caused fire 16 kilometres south of McLeese Lake on Highway 97, one of the pumper trucks wouldn’t start.

Hicks later determined the truck didn’t start because the gas tank was completely emptied.

Another pumper truck also had half of its fuel siphoned, but luckily made it to the scene, he added.

The trucks also have expensive gear, which Hicks said he was happy never got pilfered when the fuel was stolen.

Read More: Siphoned gas leaves McLeese Lake Fire Dept. one truck short

“As soon as the weather turns, say -2C, we have to get those trucks completely decommissioned for the winter time because we have no building,” Hicks said of the other challenges of not having a proper hall.

In the winter the department relies on the small fire truck by drilling a hole in the lake and using water totes in the back of pickup trucks if there are any fires.

The department has a budget going towards a hall and has raised money to purchase a piece of property that’s going through the ALR process, which should be finalized by the spring of 2019, Hicks said.

Between now and then the department will have to come up with a design and raise about $200,000, although Hicks said he does not think fundraising will be problematic.

“We’ve had a grounds-well of support. The province has been great,” he added. We are hoping for something from the federal government and the Soda Creek Band is interested in helping as well.”

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