The Fort Frances Fire/Rescue Service took part in an emergency exercise last Thursday morning at the Fort Frances Airport grounds.
Fire Chief/CEMC Tyler Moffitt said the exercise simulated a plane crash that took place in an open field just southwest of the tarmac.
Transport Canada requires airports to conduct testing of emergency plans every five years.
Chief Moffitt said the biggest concern of an emergency in that area, as well as other rural areas, is the lack of a water supply.
“People forget there are areas of Fort Frances that don't have hydrants,” he noted.
The distance from the fire hall to the exercise “crash” site was about eight km.
Chief Moffitt said the exercise demonstrated how the distance and lack of easily-accessible water potentially can be a huge problem in the event of an emergency in that kind of setting.
He added that during an emergency situation, much like the mock plane crash exercise, a call would be put in to the MNRF to supply an extra pump truck—but that takes time and it's not guaranteed the ministry would be available to do so.
The Fort Frances Fire/Rescue Service currently has two pumper trucks at its disposal and one of them is 23 years old.
“Initially, we need water right away,” Chief Moffitt said.
"Going forward, the next purchase of a fire truck, which is a capital purchase, to replace our 23-year-old truck in our hall here, I would like to put that [older] truck eventually to a reserve status. . . .
“It would be a great addition to just put [the truck] into a reserve status and have it there as a back-up—a valuable water source,” he reasoned.
Using the pumper truck as a reserve also would be cheaper than buying a tanker truck, both initially and overall.
The pumper truck has “basically paid its dues,” Chief Moffitt said.
“You've paid for it already and it's really not worth anything to sell,” he noted.
“But as a valuable piece of equipment," he added. "Six minutes' worth of water with foam is a great addition anywhere.”
In the future, the Fort Frances Fire/Rescue Service will be taking part in another emergency exercise with the airport.
“It will be more of a full-scale one,” Chief Moffitt said.
“Basically, we'll take up to five years to plan to do it right because you want to get everybody involved then, for sure.”
He added last week's exercise helped to identify additional improvements in communications, as well.