WILKIE — A welcome rain on May 24 added to the excitement in the community of Wilkie as the partnership that helped bring a state-of-the-art fire truck to Wilkie and District Fire Department was celebrated and unveiled.
Wilkie District Fire Association hosted an open house and barbecue for residents to enjoy a burger and see a new truck that was recently purchased to boost the firefighting efforts. Several special guests were on hand speaking at the short program, followed by the official truck unveiling as it was driven out of the station and the keys were officially handed over to Fire Chief Randy Elder.
The Wilkie and District Fire Department and Wilkie District Fire Association were proud of this vision-to-reality truck arrival.
“The trucks we currently use are all designed for structural fire use and when we are billing rural customers for field or equipment fire, we needed something that was able to go off-road,” Brett McIntosh, vice-chair of the newly formed Wilkie District Fire Board, tells the Unity-Wilkie Press-Herald and SASKTODAY.ca.
“Any fire or emergency call attended to, someone is getting a bill, whether it’s the landowner, the homeowner or SGI.”
The two fire boards amalgamating into one board now include two representatives from the Town of Wilkie — Councillor Dave Dornstauder and Councillor Alex Majewski. The fire board’s chair is Gerald Gerlinsky, reeve of the RM of Reford. Also representing the RM is Councillor Greg Sutherland. The RM of Buffalo is represented by Reeve Les Kroschinski and Councillor Brett McIntosh while the RM of Tramping Lake Reeve Norbert Gerein is their representative. The Town of Scott is represented by Councillor Stu Brandt. The administrator is Stacey Hawkins.
The fire board makes it much easier for the fire chief to present an annual budget rather than trying to deal with two boards as in the past.
“The urban and rural municipalities put money away every year for capital purchases with the remainder of the funds for this valuable equipment coming through the fire board,” McIntosh said of the new truck’s purchase.
“This truck is brand new to this department and the cost was approximately $440,000.”
The truck was a vision of Chief Randy Elder and Deputy Chief Craig Sittler created by Sea Hawk Service and Acres Industries. An all-around truck was created that can respond and attend to structure fires, field fires, motor vehicle accidents and wildland grass fires, and also can be used as a water tender, and will serve the district for a lot of years, affirms McIntosh.
The unit was ordered in 2022 and the company drove it to Wilkie on May 24 where fire department team members were instructed in how to operate the truck’s features. Following the morning workshop, the WDFD and fire board showed off the new truck giving residents an up-close look.
The truck features high clearance, four-wheel drive and spray arms and accommodates two people, replacing the older town truck that was used. The former truck was sold to Red Pheasant First Nation for their firefighting team.
Ron Vanderzwaag, of Sea Hawk Sellers and Distributors, brought the new truck from Wawanesa, Man. The unit was built by Acres Emergency Vehicles.
“There are three of these units currently in service with another four on order,” Vanderzwaag says.
The Sea Hawk representative said the fire truck has 41-inch tires, holds 1400 gallons of water, and can pump 750 gallons a minute.
Sea Hawk’s Vanderzwaag said, “We will service the units, do regular check-ups and warranty work on this truck. Our relationship goes on for years after this purchase, it’s not just one and done.”
An operator can start, and operate, a pump from the cab and McIntosh affirmed that it has foam induction capability if needed.
Mayor David Ziegler echoed every speaker during the program extending gratitude and appreciation to not only the partnership that made this vision become a reality, but great thanks were extended to all members of Wilkie and District Fire Department for their work for keeping the community and district safe.
“We have great people in our fire department and we wanted to give them great equipment to work with,” said RM of Buffalo Reeve Les Kroschinski.
Town of Scott Councillor, Stu Brandt, stated, “This unit will have a significant impact and it will be nice for the department to be so well equipped.”
“We had a vision, put our heads together and we had a long wish list of what we needed this truck to be capable of … this truck checked all those boxes,” Deputy Chief Sittler added.
Fire Chief Elder told those attending that the truck is military-built and is versatile to all the needs of whatever call they are responding to.
“There are five similar trucks like this in Canada right now but this truck, built like this for us, is the only one of its kind in Canada.”
Elder reminded everyone in attendance, that while their department has 20 members, the department is always looking for new people to join their division of protective services.
The addition of the newest truck adds to the fleet that includes one structure fire truck, one rescue truck, one water tanker, one command truck and one side-by-side.