Conflict between fire department, county gets heated

Dave Mathieson
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RIVER HEBERT – The county said it’s coming off the road, the River Hebert Fire Department said it’s not.

George Rector, River Hebert Fire Department chief, and the Liberal candidate for Cumberland South, Kenny John Jackson, stand by the truck that is at the centre of controversy between the fire department and the county.

RIVER HEBERT – The county said it’s coming off the road, the River Hebert Fire Department said it’s not.

“I’m not giving that tanker truck up,” said George Rector, chief of the River Hebert Fire Department. “That truck is ready to roll, and if any other department in the county wants to use that truck it’s ready to roll.”

The tanker is the largest of two tanker trucks used by River Hebert and holds 4,000 gallons of water.

Depending on who you talk to the tanker is either road worthy or it isn’t.

“We had a guy come up from fire services to inspect the truck and it had something like 23 deficiencies and it was deemed by him to be unsafe,” said Keith Hunter, warden for the Municipality of Cumberland County. “Now, once we get a piece of paper saying that (the truck is unsafe), if the truck were ever in an accident and anybody was injured or killed and we left it on the road knowing we had a piece of paper saying it was unsafe, we would be liable.

“So, we’re taking it off the road.”

Rector said the truck is safe.

“The guy who made the list of the deficiencies has nothing to do with safety inspections,” said Rector. “I took the list with me over to the heavy duty mechanic who did the inspection and there’s nothing wrong with it.

“It cost me $90 to get it inspected. All that truck needed was a $1.84 for a light bulb.”

Rector also said he got a permit for the truck from an engineer in Halifax.

“I sent him all the information he needed and he gave me a special permit,” said Rector.

“That truck only goes for emergencies. It only went out four times last year and it may go out 10 times this year,” he added.

Hunter said the county’s not going to take the risk.

“We’ve said to the River Hebert Fire Department that if you want it on the road we’re not insuring it for you, we’re not being liable. If they’re not willing to take the chance, why should we?”

Rector said the fire department owns the fire truck, the fire department paid for the inspection and the insurance and the truck is road worthy.

The Joggins Fire Department also has a tanker truck.

“River Hebert has an automatic aid agreement with Joggins,” said Hunter. “Joggins has a tanker truck and River Hebert has a tanker truck and, combined, they are second or third in the amount of water they have in the entire county.”

Rector said the water capacity between the two departments is of little interest to him.

“We’re not combining us and Joggins,” said Rector. “I’m worried about River Hebert.

“They’re just trying to get rid of the truck for some reason,” he added. “But it’s fully insured and permitted.”

Cumberland South Liberal candidate, Kenny John Jackson, was in River Hebert for the departments 65 anniversary on Sunday. He listened to Rector’s story and sided with the fire chief.

“I would like to see the truck stay here,” he said. “It’s a very important tool for firefighting, especially when you’re fighting fires in rural areas where there’s no water supply.”

“It’s not costing the county anything to have it here,” he added. “The River Hebert Fire Department purchased the truck. It (the money) didn’t come out of the municipality, as far as I understand, so what’s the purpose of removing it.”

Rector said the truck was used a little over two weeks ago at a garbage dump fire.

“It rolled and I told the chiefs if they need it it’s going to roll and that’s the way we’re going run it.”

Hunter disagrees.

“It’s not allowed to be driven on the road because we’re not going to insure it.”










Organizations: Fire Department

Geographic location: RIVER HEBERT, Joggins, Cumberland County Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Jack22
    September 13, 2013 - 21:33

    This is one of those situations where all it would take is one horrible accident where someone gets hurt or god forbid gets killed and then I can just imagine what the public would think knowing the County had reports saying the truck was unsafe and did nothing about it. All those people criticizing the Municipality should consider the safety of the fire fighters who volunteer their time for everyone's safety. They deserve safe equipment.

  • Johnathan
    September 13, 2013 - 15:11

    There is a few things the department should look at, is the truck over weight, is the load on the truck evenly spread out, does it have the braking capacity to stop the truck under normal conditions, is the axle and wheel bearings rated for the load it is carrying, just to name a few and if any of these items are in question then there is a liability problem which may result in legal problems for the department and the county if this truck was involved in a accident. An accident that may not be caused by the department but by another motorist. If it was my problem the truck would be of the road on till all issues are resolved or the truck is replaced.

  • ronnie porter
    September 12, 2013 - 21:59

    well i would say to mr hunter if it isnt not road saftey and you want to ahve the final say then maybe you should put up the money for a new one bottom line

    September 12, 2013 - 11:02

    Bill, the fire chief in River Hebert knows his area ,he knows how much water is needed.If there is enough water with Joggins on mutual aid why is Amherst and Springhill being called out to every fire.As far as safety issues with the truck,it passed MVI anyone can make a list up if you what something gone and know the right people.Maybe the question should be asked how many deficiencies were there with the new trucks [82] how many other trucks have problems and are still on the road.Just saying there's more to this then meets the eye.And RH is not on the list for a new truck.

  • Fire Lt
    September 12, 2013 - 08:52

    If the county is going to replace the truck with a brand new one, I dont see what the issue here is? The county is supplying fire apparatus for "rural" departments and alot of upgrades have recently been made. Is River Hebert on their list?

  • Bill Bixby
    September 12, 2013 - 07:55

    What is not mentioned in the article is the fact that each member of the River Hebert volunteer fire department got a letter from the Municipality of Cumberland letting them know that the truck in question is not safe for the road and that the volunteers will be driving it at their own risk. I think that the Fire Chief should not be ignoring it. As for the inspector in Halifax, he hasn't even seen the truck. He is just going on the information that the fire chief sent him. Something sketchy about this situation. Should be looked into further.

  • Mike
    September 12, 2013 - 07:20

    As a member of the fire service, I'd love to know who it was that looked at it and said there are 23 deficiencies. Apparently it must not meet NFPA standard. Who does? Who cares? As long as the pump is good keep it going....unless the county is willing to replace it for the guys in river Hebert.

  • Jane
    September 12, 2013 - 07:08

    If the vehicle passed inspection at a licensed motor vehicle inspection point, then I can't understand the problem. If it passed inspection and is still unsafe, that is an issue for the Inspection Agent.

  • David
    September 11, 2013 - 17:53

    Well we know how Jackson feels about the fire truck .I wonder how Baillie feels about the truck or anything affecting River Hebert. As far as I know he is MIA Not to be confused with MLA. Has anyone seen him yet!!!!