City fire trucks may be en route to Belarus

Old vehicles of no use in Ontario, but they are appreciated overseas


Tired and worn out, after 15 years on the front lines and another five years in the reserves, Ontario fire trucks are retired.

They aren't worth anything as fire vehicles - in Ontario anyway. In the eastern Belarusian town of Chausy, though, our old fire trucks can still give years of service.

During Tuesday night's city council meeting, fire Chief Harold Tulk will seek approval to send four out-of-commission fire trucks to Belarus, through the Brockville-based organization Canadian Aid for Chernobyl.

Twenty-two years ago, the Chernobyl power plant exploded in the worst nuclear disaster the world has seen, emitting 100 times the radiation from the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War. About 60 per cent of that radiation landed in Belarus, concentrated in the southeastern part of the country, near the Ukraine-Belarus border.

Kingston Fire and Rescue has four fire vehicles Tulk is recommending the city donate to the organization's cause: a 1970 LaFrance 100-foot aerial ladder, two 1975 Louisville 9000-series triple combination pumpers and a 1983 Pierreville International pumper.

"These fire trucks can't be sold in Ontario," Tulk said, adding that the vehicles will require a fair bit of work when they arrive in Belarus.

"We're giving them as-is ... they're still functional."

Tulk said if the trucks could be of use to any of the Kingston area departments, he wouldn't recommend sending them away.

"The only value in them is in scrap value," he said. "In this particular case, I looked around to ... see who else was asking for these things and no one was asking for them, so they were heading to the scrap yard."

Jeff Earle has been working with the Chernobyl charity since 1997. He said the organization has already shipped two fire trucks to Belarus.

"Frankly, our 25-year-old fire trucks are, in most cases, better than anything they have over there," he said. "Their fire trucks look like old army six-by-sixes with a bucket in them. ... They're in rough shape.



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