Outdated equipment is slowing rescues, Burlington Fire Department says


Published May 5, 2023 at 11:38 am

Ontario Burlington fire residence lightning strike roof thunderstorms

The Burlington Fire Department wants to update old extrication equipment that makes it difficult to rescue people trapped inside newer vehicles.

A report presented at a Burlington committee meeting yesterday (May 4) stressed the need for the City to replace the older rescue equipment to deal with the strength of new cars that are intended to keep passengers safe, but make it tough for extrication.

Firefighters want the new, battery-powered devices because of their portability combined with their ability to cut through the stronger-made cars. Older machines typically are connected to a power source or run on fuel, both of which can cause mobility problems.

The department wants to spend over $800,000 on the new devices.

“The Burlington Fire Department is at a stage where the current inventory of vehicle extrication equipment is at the end of life and requires a total of 236 pieces to be replaced,” a report presented at the meeting reads. “Current vehicle high strength design is limiting the department’s ability to conduct extrication in a timely manner.”

The brand the fire department wants to purchase — Holmatro Pentheon — is designed to deal with the new, strong construction materials that vehicles are made of, according to the report.

“As you can imagine, it is quite chaotic when we go out on the QEW — and we are out there a lot. So, to be able to take a tool and go out to a car and not be tethered back to a power plant, (then) the move to battery tools is a significant upgrade in our ability to deliver service,” Deputy Fire Chief Philip Thorburn told City councillors at the meeting.

At the meeting, a member of the public questioned the cost of the potential purchase and the fact the City did not look for a lower cost through the tendering process.

Thorburn justified the purchasing need, saying the mobility of the Holmatro extrication equipment is crucial when responding to emergencies. He said the newer devices are also quieter and cause less pollution.

Further, he said, the department has an existing relationship with Holmatro, and the company provides real-time diagnostics for quick repairs.

The matter still has to go before Burlington City council for approval.


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