Vaudreuil-Dorion Fire Department announces improved services
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Vaudreuil-Dorion Fire Department Director Terry Rousseau (left) and Captain of Operations Serge Chartrand give a tour of recently acquired first responders’ equipment reflecting the improvements in the department’s services.
The Vaudreuil-Dorion Fire Department announced that firefighters would be on full-time duty, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year, as of Sunday, September 2.
“We are really happy as a city council to be able to offer this service,” said Mayor Guy Pilon August 28 at the Forbes Fire Station. “Our goal was to also provide first responder service for our citizens,” he added, specifying many of the firefighters have been trained as first responders. “Their role is to assess and stabilize individuals before the ambulance arrives.” About 40 firefighters have received the required training to act as first responders and can intervene in cases of extreme allergic reaction, trauma, and cardiorespiratory arrest.
Operating the service
To facilitate the new service, the Fire Department will have six firefighters on duty during weekdays and four on duty nights and weekends. In January, 2019 six firefighters will be added to the roster for all shifts. The long-term plan is to have eight firefighters on duty at the Forbes and Lotbinière stations by 2020.
New ladder truck
The recently purchased large ladder truck at a cost of $1.5 million was also on site for the press conference. “We have two. We ordered this one over a year ago,” said Pilon adding the city had been renting a similar truck for the past six or seven months. The ladder extends to 100 feet and has features permitting rescue operations as well as the usual water hose capability. The cab of the truck also features space for first responders and their equipment.
A first for the region
“I’d like to point out that we’ll be the first fire department in the Municipalité régionale de comté Vaudreuil-Soulanges (MRC-VS) to have a full team of firefighters on duty 24/7,” said Fire Department Director Terry Rousseau. He said with a growing population in the area and the risks in the territory, having full-time round the clock firefighters available would improve the response time to emergency calls. “It took about six years to organize the additional service,” Rousseau told The Journal. “It was one stage at a time.”
Background of new service
The first step was the hiring of four full-time firefighters in 2016 who worked only during the day. “With the statistics following that change, we were able to see the difference and that helped us demonstrate the need for more service,” said Rousseau, noting that with additional full-time onsite personnel the outcome of a daytime house fire was better and more efficient than an evening fire.
“At 11 o’clock on a Tuesday morning we would be able to save the house. The same fire at nine at night, it would be a total loss,” he said adding, “We can never replace a firefighter at the station with a firefighter at home.”
Within 90 seconds of a call, a truck is on the road from the fire station. Having a firefighter respond from home adds an additional 10 or 11 minutes to the equation according to Rousseau’s statistics. “It can mean the difference between saving a life or not.”
Areas of service
With two major traffic arteries, Highways 20 and 40, crossing bridges into Vaudreuil-Dorion, the fire department has received calls regarding accidents on the bridges.
“Part of the bridges come under the jurisdiction of Montreal,” said Rousseau. In an attempt to handle the situation efficiently, Rousseau has suggested to the Montreal authorities that Vaudreuil-Dorion fire department handle the east bound traffic lanes while their Montreal counterparts take care of the westbound lanes. “That hasn’t been completed, yet. It takes time,” he said.
The city also has specialized nautical rescue equipment. “We receive about 15 calls per year for water rescue situations and about four or five on ice in the winter’” said Rousseau adding they are also able to handle calls concerning dangerous materials.
Pipeline and railway accidents
“We have met with Trans Canada and Enbridge,” said Rousseau, “When we are invited to participate in their exercises, we do. Of course, we have our own exercises in case there is an emergency.” Regarding the rail lines that cross the area, Rousseau said that Canadian National (CN) communicated and worked with the city regularly. As for Canadian Pacific (CP) the situation was completely the opposite, according to Rousseau.
“I have no contact from CP and it’s not for lack of trying on my part,” he said. The Vaudreuil-Dorion fire department also serves the municipalities of Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac and L’Île-Cadieux.