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Whistler fire rescue gears up for new truck

Engine set to replace 22-year-old fire truck

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The Whistler Fire Rescue Service is prepping to add a new fire truck to its fleet, replacing a 22-year-old vehicle the resort's fire chief says has reached the end of its lifespan.

The recommendation to replace the aging truck comes from a consultant report released this summer that provided "a holistic view" of Whistler's seven-vehicle fleet, said Fire Chief Geoff Playfair.

"We've got a vehicle that's 22 years old and typically we retire them at 20 years," he added.

The report concluded the fire department should acquire a "rescue engine" designed to handle the initial phase of a callout.

"What you have is an engine that's equipped for a light rescue and basically set up with medical as well, and everything the duty crew is going to need in the first few minutes of any particular call," Playfair noted.

The idea is that the new rescue engine would be a "first-response" vehicle, recategorizing the existing Quint fire trucks in the fleet as second-run vehicles.

"We're looking at how we could perhaps shift those to a second-run vehicle and put something else out as a first-run that would be a little more maneuverable, a little more fuel efficient and perhaps easier for maintenance," Playfair said.

The money for the new fire truck would come from the $750,000 set aside in the municipality's vehicle acquisition fund, which acts similar to a lease program.

"We pay an annual fee that goes in against the replacement of that vehicle, and it's amortized over the number of years of its life expectancy," Playfair added.

The department will likely put out an RFP for the new truck by the end of 2016, with the vehicle expected to arrive in Whistler within a year of the tender.

With new development in Rainbow, Playfair said there's been an increase in the number of callouts north of the village.

"We've got the commercial zone in Rainbow just starting to open up with the Rainbow Plaza building, and the gas station's been there for a few months now, so there's potential to see some calls coming out of those buildings, and particularly as those buildings age,' he said.

A Fire Services Review presented to council in November 2015 recommended closing Fire Station 2, located in Alpine at 8900 Highway 99, although Playfair said a final decision has yet to be made and that the most recent fire truck needs assessment "puts that recommendation into question."

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