By Marianne Curtis
Around the end of April, I was driving to Landmark to pick up my husband from work when I spotted a stream of black smoke rising to the sky. As I got closer I could see burst of orange in the distance and I knew that I was heading towards something that was more intense then a small grass fire.
When I arrived at the scene, I could quickly see that a number of barns had burned to the ground, a third was about to go and a number of Holsteins were frantically searching for a place to go. On the yard, I could see a number of RM of Tache fire trucks, with fire fighters desperately donning their gear.
Soon the Ste. Genevieve department joined the Lorette and Landmark crews and the RM of Ritchot truck arrived shortly afterwards. What caught my interest, other then the fact that I was watching a farmers livelihood go up in smoke, was the water supply.
Here was one of the biggest fires that I have seen in the municipality and the fire crews were relying on tankers from Landmark, Ste. Genevieve and the RM of Ritchot for their water supply. Where was the truck from Lorette?
I have sat and listened to the debate at the municipal level. Should we buy a truck this year, or should we wait until the next? Each year, this most necessary piece of fire fighting equipment has been pushed back on the five year plan for another year.
As an RM of Tache resident and taxpayer, I find it very disheartening to know that in the event of a fire, we may have to wait for the truck from Ste. Genevieve or even from the RM of Ritchot, to arrive. This could mean at least a 30-minute wait – if not longer – depending on how long it takes for the firefighters to be dispatched and then collect at the halls. By then, my house and everyone else’s homes could be pretty much beyond repair.
My point is this – a few years ago the RM of Tache spent a few hundred thousand on a municipal shop building – which is now half empty because they are selling off their graders. Would they have not been better off keeping that building at a reasonable size and invested the money in a new truck?
I am sorry, but I have no faith in a fire truck that I followed to a grass fire near Ste. Genevieve last summer, that did not go any faster then 80 kilometers an hour AND was leaking water all the way. I think that the RM of Tache needs to re-priorise their five year plan, scrape paving the municipality and spend that money wisely – we may not need fire protection every day – but when we do, we expect it to be able to deliver.