Morden Fire and Rescue (MFR) has had a tough start to the year, according to Fire Chief Andy Thiessen, but not as far as fire calls go but as far as equipment goes. 

“We got a surprise here about six weeks ago the breathing apparatus we use here on the department has lost its certification by the company that actually manufactures it. They've not pursued recertifying their equipment, basically getting out of the business, and by doing that, certification for the stuff that we have has been yanked and so all those breathing apparatuses need to be replaced.” 

MFR found itself having to make last-minute adjustments in the final stages of budgeting last month. 

“It's a surprise to us and it's not a cheap surprise either. We have 20 breathing apparatuses we use in our department and to replace those was around the $200,000 mark, just shy of $200,000. So, when you don't budget for that kind of thing, it's kind of a hit to you.” 

Fire Fighters wearing the breathing apparatus.(Submitted photo) 

This means other items like savings for vehicle replacements are dipped into to make up for the added cost. 

“We're trying to also save up for truck replacements, which are coming here in the next year and in two years, so this puts a strain on what we do and how we do things. You have a plan in place where you're going to replace these things over the next 10 to 15 years. And now that plan is kind of thrown to the wind by a large corporate company that decides that, nope, they don't want to back it and we're left holding the bag.” 

A used ladder truck is supposed to come next year with a price tag of $1.5 million and two years from now, another vehicle will also be coming for another $1.5 million.  

“It’s not cheap to run a fire department.” Thiessen remarked, adding it’s not just a bucket and some water any longer.  

Fire Fighters wearing the breathing apparatus.(Submitted photo) 

They do their best to take care of equipment and take pride in making it last as long as possible, even retiring it in good condition, when the time comes. 

Thiessen said breathing apparatus is essential equipment for the work MFR does. 

“Without it, we can't do our job. Without that and personal protective gear basically, our fire department doesn't exist. It's hugely important to what we do. We're a volunteer department and even full-time departments, we want our guys and gals to be able to go home in 10 years from now, know that what we did was safe for them, and they don't have cancers that come and get them because of what they've done for their community, that's just not right. And now when a company comes along and says, ‘Oh, we don't want to make these things anymore. You're kind of on your own. Go find something better.’” 

Three reputable companies were considered for replacement apparatus and the most cost effective happened to also be the ones with the best fit, according to Thiessen. So, a plan is in place to replace the much-needed equipment. 

Fire Fighters wearing the breathing apparatus.(Submitted photo)