New Engine 12 officially unveiled by Prince Albert Fire Department

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Mayor Greg Dionne and Prince Albert Fire Chief Kris Olson performed a ceremonial passing of the keys when the new Engine 12 was introduced at the Prince Albert Fire Hall on Wednesday afternoon.

There is a new fire truck in service for the Prince Albert Fire Department.

The replacement for Engine 12 officially entered into service after a ceremony at the Prince Albert Fire Hall on Wednesday afternoon.

Prince Albert Fire Chief Kris Olson said the replacement dates back to 2020, and the City was fortunate to get the truck delivered when they did.

“After going to tender, 450 days later the truck arrived, and that’s a normal process,” he explained. “Now that COVID has affected the supply chain, we have been told that those days have actually been extended.”

Olson said that the timing was not planned and with prices going up they were happy to receive the truck, valued at nearly $900,000, when they did.

The truck officially entered into service on Wednesday evening as the secondary pumper truck.

Olson gave a brief speech and thanked council for the forethought of fleet renewal. Afterwards he ceremonially received the keys from Mayor Greg Dionne.

Olson said that the truck is like any other fire truck on the surface, but has a state of the art operating system which he believes is the future of firefighting.

“What is unique about this truck is the operating system,” he explained. “We went with the IDEX SAM system, which is an automated pumping system, and the Whelon system, which basically automates the entire truck—everything from cameras to sirens to the way the pump operates and how it operates.”

Olson added that the new system makes things a little easier on the pump operator.

“It is basically modernizing,” he said. “I will put it this way … no one has a typewriter in their house, right? We now have a laptop computer. That would be my analogy to the fire service in this automate system.”

The last time the department received a new fire truck was 2017. That truck is the current primary truck until the crews are familiar with the new operating system.

The frontline apparatus, as Olson calls it, includes two fully staffed trucks, but they also cross staff multiple trucks.

“Depending on the call, depending on what is required for that incident, whether it is a heavy rescue or an aerial tanker where there is no water supply the second crew will cross staff that unit,” he explained.

In total, there are five fire engines with two fully staffed and three cross staffed.

A fire truck does not come off the lot ready to go. It has to be constructed by a fire crew. In this case it was the “A” Platoon and “C” Platoon who got Engine 12 ready for service.

“A truck comes bare shelled, basically, and though the dimensions have all been determined, that’s how the truck comes,” Olson said. “The equipment transfer, insuring that there are proper checklists in place, the training, the orientation—there are many, many, hours involved in that.”

Prince Albert fire crews worked around the clock over the last week to get the truck in service. The truck will serve as the second engine until it becomes the lead truck.

“With the new operating system, you have to give our members enough time to orientate to it on real incidences, so it will be the second out apparatus for up into the fall,” Olson said.

The valves for the truck are the same, but the automation makes a difference.

Olson credited City Councils past and present for having the foresight to create the fleet reserve portion in budget deliberation. He explained that it allows the department to project 20 or 30 years down the road and see where replacements are needed year by year.

“What you have in the Prince Albert Fire Department thanks to those decisions, if you look around, is equipment that’s in top shape and that can respond to an emergency and perform, because it’s key, it’s absolute key,” Olson said.

In 2020 a report was written to council for replacement of Engine 12. That was the beginning of a long process beginning with approval by City Council and then moving to tender. The truck was purchased from Carl Thibault Fire Trucks supplied through Westvac Industrial.

Dionne, city councillor Dawn Kilmer, and city manager Sherry Person represented the City of Prince Albert at the event.

The build team includes members of the department, Fleet Manager Robert Snowden, Purchasing Manager Mike Lytle and representatives from the company the truck was purchased from.

The truck it replaces was in service for 21 years, serving 15 years frontline and five in reserve capacity.

“It has been the standard that 15 year it would serve as a front line pumper, so we are off by a year,” Olson said.

He estimated the pumper would be in service until 2043.