A firefighting and rescue capability is returning to the Northwest Regional Airport with the rental of a fire truck which will then be replaced by two new ones just ordered.
Airport employees are now being trained to operate the rented vehicle which is to go into service Oct. 2, says airport manager Carman Hendry.
That date meets a federal timetable to have a fire truck at the airport because of the growth in the past several years of the number of passengers using the facility.
Two additional employees have been hired as the airport meets its firefighting and rescue obligations.
The airport is meeting two requirements by ordering two new firetrucks: they need one truck for a firefighting and rescue capability because of the growth in passenger traffic, and they need a second vehicle because the number of scheduled flights has increased, said Hendry.
The rented fire truck they are using temporarily comes from the Prince George airport and the airport here is paying a nominal monthly fee of $100 and has put in a new engine.
“It’s a good arrangement. It’s what airports do – help each other,” said Hendry. “If we had to rent one from a company, the cost would be $4,000 a month.”
The two new vehicles come from an American manufacturer called Oshkosh and Transport Canada is covering the cost of just over $1.74 million. The airport is adding a few options such as backup cameras at its own expense.
Hendry said the fire trucks should be in Terrace within 300 days, enough time to construct a two-vehicle bay addition to the airport’s maintenance building.
Transport Canada is covering that cost as well, and the airport has already sent out a request for construction proposals, he said.
“Our goal is to have it ready by next September and having the shelter attached to the maintenance building is just more efficient,” Hendry added.
While the federal government is covering the initial capital cost of the trucks and shelter, all ongoing expenses are the responsibility of the airport.
To cover that, the airport is charging the airlines a fee.
“It will be based on the exact cost per passenger to supply the service, and will be reviewed every six months and adjusted to the passenger volume,” said Hendry.
The rental and the two new vehicles can each be operated by one person and will have the capability to lay down a foam path from an aircraft’s exit door for passengers to exit safely.
Hendry said the airport will continue to rely on the services of the Terrace and Thornhill fire department and other emergency agencies.
“The response and participation of these groups continue to play a critical role in any emergency situation. There is no substitute for the amount of training and professionalism these people provide in our community,” he said.
Hendry called the addition of a fire and rescue capability an exciting move for the airport.
More and more companies are inquiring as to the airport’s firefighting and rescue capability and it will help in marketing the airport, he said.
The airport once had its own firefighting and rescue department with full-time firefighters when it was a federally-operated facility but it was eliminated when the federal government turned over small airports to local authorities in the 1990s.
New federal regulations based on passenger numbers were then developed and it is these regulations the Northwest Regional Airport is now following because of its growth over the past several years.