The MacGregor Fire department is currently under the leadership of Chris Leckie, who notes they've come a long way in keeping the community and area safe. PortageOnline took a tour of the fire hall.  Leckie outlines how everything operates for the firefighters. 

"We have approximately 28 firefighters on our roster and we have some that are quite active and some that are working away," says Leckie. "It's hard for them to attend all the time, but we do appreciate when they do, and can put in the time."

He led us out to the respond vehicles and noted the currently have a 2019 fire truck. 

"We had our upgrade to our pumper. It works well with our guys, and holds a lot of manpower. All of our equipment is basically all on this one unit that can respond to any incident. So it's quite a diverse machine. And when we spec'd it out, we spec'd it out for it to be that type of unit for us and it works very well. It's a few years old, but it's fairly new."

Leckie adds they have a series of stations for the firefighters turnout gear lined up against the wall of the garage.

"We recently completed that and it upgrade, keeps everybody their own spot to install and everything's neat and tidy, up to date and ready to respond. So that was a nice little upgrade that we had done.  We've been working at this for approximately three years. It takes some time, but we are careful with our funds and our budgeting. We only do as much as we can every year. So, we finally completed it last year."

He explains they are always trying to update their tools to the more technological units that are available.

"Recently, we upgraded our rescue tools from the Fire Protection grant that was handed out a few years ago now. We were able to upgrade to all battery-operated extrication tools. We have every. Every tool that Homaltro has. It's great equipment for us to access, and the most recent one that we just purchased from last year's fundraising efforts was through Bull Bash. This is a mini extrication tool that can fit into certain small areas. It's nice to have because sometimes, the equipment is too bulky to get into those certain areas for brake pedals, or anywhere around engine areas where there might be some obstruction. This tool. Is quick, effective and works very well for all our needs. They're constantly upgrading with the technology all the time and we're very fortunate here to have been able to keep that up to date."

The same panel that he opened on the pumper truck for the extrication tools also housed an airbag system comprised of two square panels that are connected with C02 and inflated. 

"They fill up. With air from an SCBA tank, and if someone's trapped or we need to access an area around the vehicle, or something strapped underneath, we can access it with using air to lift the entire vehicle. You can put them on top of each other and then you'll get that much more of a lift. The amount they can lift is incredible. We actually did our training seminar with one of our trucks and it had no problem lifting our trucks."

He notes they have a great complement of equipment. 

"Our tanker is a 1999 Freightliner. We purchased that quite a few years ago and it holds 2500 gallons of water. It has an onboard pump, so we can use it, as well as an attack unit if needed. It's been a huge asset to us for accessing water. We used to depend a lot on our local Hutterites to bring us water, and which is fine. We love that they do that and when we call them, they come, but it's good to have your own source to not have to call them all the time."

Leckie says that particular truck has benefited the crew and they're extremely proud of the machine.  They also have a Rescue truck.

"We have two sets of jaws. We have our old set. When we did get the new set of hydraulics, and battery-operated tools, we decided to hang on to our second set just as a security safe measure. If we ever had a multi vehicle accident, this older set would be usable as well. Back then, for the amount of dollars that we were going to get for it, it really wasn't feasible to let it go. So, again, another useful tool that was fundraised by the community and kept in the community."

Almost everything they acquire has been obtained through funds provided by their many fundraisers. He also pointed out a 2015 trailer that houses a Ranger side-by-side quad attack unit, and a pump in the back that's capable of use for grass fires.

"For snowmobile rescue, we have a toboggan that we can pull our ATV rescue in the summertime. We had the side-by-side, the tank the trailer 100 per cent completed by fundraising from our local car washes and a couple of big events that we did. But the guys are very proud of that, as well, for what they do."

Their most recent truck is a wildland unit with a built-in pump in the back and hose reels on top.

"It's our quick attack unit. We use it a lot for grass fires and traffic control. This is one of our main trucks for traffic control and for accident scenes. The guys are happy with everything and there's really no tool that is left untouched here that helps them do their job effectively."

Leckie explains they added a section on tot he back of the fire hall on one side within the last five years.

"We needed more room. So, we added a piece onto the back to house our new wildland truck that was coming. And it gave us some time to plan things out properly. So, we do have proper filling stations, quite a few upgrades, and a lot more room for us from the front of the street. It doesn't look like it is as big of a facility as it is, but we're very happy with it."

He notes their firefighters come when they can, and he describes them as paid on-call volunteers.

"If the local business guys have to get away, they let them go. We're struggling if they didn't come. They are number one."

Leckie says the Municipality of North Norfolk is always good to them budget-wise, and they're not sure what they will require next, noting there are plenty of options for the time being. 

"There's constant upgrades all the time on fire equipment always lots of wishes on the wish list, but we're happy with what we have. Our guys do a lot, a lot of extra fundraising for the municipality for equipment that we want, which is expensive for all of our taxpayers to have to pay for all the time. So, we appreciate everything that the community does and we look forward to always doing what we do; that's going out to help and protect and save what we can in the municipality and surrounding area."

He explains there are two departments in North Norfolk. One is in MacGregor and the other in Austin, and they often work jointly.

"Any major fires that require more manpower, it's utilized both ways. If we need more members, they come and we call them out, and vice versa. If they need more, they call us, as well. So, it's a good team effort. With both departments working hand in hand, especially at large structure fires more resources, the better. It's a good partnership."