Despite being only a small community of roughly 325 residents, Margaree-Fox Roost has accomplished something very big.
The local service district has a new pumper truck.
The vehicle was Sunday, Sept. 30, with a short parade, followed by a community barbecue.
The firefighters also constructed a new addition to the fire hall to house the new truck.
That project involved about 80 hours of volunteer labour. Many of the volunteers hold full time jobs elsewhere and sacrificed leisure and family time to work on the building.
And they did all this without a single penny from the provincial government.
Fire Chief Mark Vautier, who has been chief for three years and a volunteer fire fighter for a decade, says the truck is second hand, but solid.
“The truck came from West Hants, Nova Scotia,” Vautier told The Gulf News. “All the money that was spent in the new addition on the building – $60-70 thousand– and the truck, which cost $17,000, was 100 per cent community raised.”
Usually money for fire trucks comes from the province, which tends to receive far more requests for new trucks than it can provide.
Vautier confirmed his department tried many times and failed to get provincial funding.
“The funding was not available,” he said. “Waiting for the government for 30 years? That’s was long enough. We had to go on our own.”
The Margaree -Fox Roost fire department building first opened in 1982 with its original truck, a 1981 model. Their new pumper truck is a 1987 model which can store up to 800 gallons of water, a feature that is important in a community that doesn’t have fire hydrants.
Almost immediately after the building first opened, the community rallied to raise funds to get a pumper truck too, hosting a Chase the Ace, bottle drives and ticket sales among other events. Under the old regulations, the cost of the pumper truck would have been covered under a 90/10 split with the provincial government.
“In the last five years it’s become evident that that’s never going to happen here,” says Vautier. “So we started more fund raising.”
Vautier’s research brought him to the used model no longer needed by West Hants. With the purchase the Margaree-Fox Roost department got more than just the truck. The West Hants department also loaded it down with extra gear such as firefighter clothing and safety equipment.
“The government of Nova Scotia and the County of West Hants – they had a member of their government there – treated us like we’ve were never treated before,” says a grateful Vautier. “The truck, on paper, cost $17 thousand but we’ve got that much plus more in equipment donated to us from them. It is amazing.”
Prior to the donation of the West Hants Fire Department, the firefighters in Margaree-Fox Roost were sharing clothing and gear because they simply didn’t have enough to go around.
Outfitting a volunteer firefighter from the boots to the hard hat costs around $3,000. Not long ago a home belonging to one of the firefighters was destroyed by fire.
“That was a huge eye opener when it came to equipment. We just don’t have the equipment. We’re volunteer.”