Fire chief awaits precious cargo

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Daniel MacEachern
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Sheshatshiu's new pumper truck on way

Douglas Ashini will finally get his shiny new fire truck.

With the resumption of Sir Robert Bond ferry service Tuesday afternoon, Sheshatshiu's fire chief is eagerly awaiting delivery of the Labrador community's new pumper truck.

"I'm going to call the boat office and see what they say about my truck now," Ashini said after being told Tuesday the ferry was set to begin running.

Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Douglas Ashini will finally get his shiny new fire truck.

With the resumption of Sir Robert Bond ferry service Tuesday afternoon, Sheshatshiu's fire chief is eagerly awaiting delivery of the Labrador community's new pumper truck.

"I'm going to call the boat office and see what they say about my truck now," Ashini said after being told Tuesday the ferry was set to begin running.

The Sir Robert Bond was originally scheduled to begin service June 18, but icy conditions prompted a delay that was worsened by mechanical problems. The ferry needs a new control panel, but provincial Transportation department spokesman Roger Scaplen said a temporary workaround has been found, which could take 10-12 weeks to repair permanently.

Scaplen said there doesn't appear to be much of a backlog of freight and passengers waiting to take the ferry, since passengers may have chosen to drive the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Ashini wouldn't consider that. It's a long drive, and the highway - which includes a 30-kilometre stretch of unfinished road - could have taken too much of a toll on the brand new, $250,000 vehicle.

Ashini said once the truck rolls off the ferry in Goose Bay, it will take about a day and a half to get to Sheshatshiu.

Firefighters in the community's new volunteer fire department are being trained by the Marine Institute, and will require three weeks of further training on the new truck - likely in September. That's the earliest the institute can provide it.

The new truck is sitting in a lot in St. John's at Emergency Repair Ltd., which picked up the truck from the manufacturer in New Brunswick.

Sheshatshiu has seen several fires in the last few years. Most have been in abandoned houses, but the death of a 17-year-old in late December prompted an investigation by the major crimes unit. Ashini says foul play was ruled out, and there have been no fires since then - "knock on wood."

Ashini said residents will be relieved to know Sheshatshiu is far better equipped now to fight fires.

"They don't know about the truck yet, but they know about the training. I want to surprise the community, saying we're well prepared now, we have everything now."

Until the new pumper arrives, fires will be fought with a modified crew cab 2010 Ford F-350, equipped with sirens, ladders and a water pump and hoses. The pickup will be used as a backup vehicle after the new pumper is put into service.

The fire in December that killed Sebastian Riche, 17, was started by youths burning things, such as candles and cardboard inside an abandoned house. The fire spread out of control, and the youths had to escape the house via a second-floor window, Ashini said.

"They ran upstairs and jumped out the window upstairs, but the last kid couldn't make it."

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Trans-Labrador Highway, New volunteer fire department, Marine Institute Emergency Repair

Geographic location: Labrador, Goose Bay, St. John's New Brunswick

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