Nova Scotia

‘Just blown away’: N.S. fire department donates fire truck to Saskatchewan community

When a fire chief in rural Nova Scotia came across a post about a fire department in rural Saskatchewan losing everything in a fire, he knew his department had to do something.

Matthew Mundle, the fire chief in Shinimicas, N.S., decided the answer was to donate a fire truck.

On the Canada Day weekend, the truck made its way toward Archerwill, Sask., a village of roughly 150 people located about 300 kilometres east of Saskatoon.

Mundle is familiar with how devastating the loss of fire equipment can be for a small community. His fire hall in Cumberland County burned in 2020 with the loss of three fire trucks.

After the fire, his department bought a used pumper and borrowed enough equipment to get by. Slowly, the department was able to rebuild.

It was decided earlier this year the used pumper was no longer needed and put up for sale.

Plans changed after Shinimicas learned of Archerwill’s plight.

“We’ve recovered well and now we have a beautiful station, we have nice trucks,”  Mundle said.

“We brought it to a meeting with the membership and the proposal was … we don’t sell it anymore and we tell them they can have it.”

The donated fire truck left Nova Scotia on Friday on its way to Saskatchewan. (Shinimicas Fire Department)

Mundle went back online and found a phone number for the Rural Municipality of Barrier Valley, where Archerwill is located. The municipality, which has a population of about 500 people, put him in touch with Steven Christianson, Archerwill’s fire chief.

On Friday, the fire truck was loaded onto a transport vehicle in Nova Scotia to start its 4,000-kilometre journey.

A man with classes stands in front of a furled Saskatchewan flag.
Steve Christianson is the Archerwill Fire Department chief. (Steve Christianson)

Christianson said when he and Mundle first spoke about the truck he was a bit overwhelmed but not surprised. He said fire departments around the world are quick to help in times of need.

“But it was definitely heartwarming to have it happen to us,” he said.  “And being that far away, it was kind of surreal for the fact that it was actually going to happen.”

Christianson said he expects the truck to arrive Tuesday or Wednesday.

He said the Archerwill department has already replaced two vehicles and the third will make a full complement.

The Archerwill department burned in February, but a new fire hall is about 50 per cent complete. Christianson said it could be ready to house the trucks in another three weeks.

Wayne Black, the head of the municipality, said the community was “just blown away by the generosity of that fire department.”

An older man in a blue shirt looks at the camera.
Wayne Black heads the rural municipality of Barrier Valley. (Rural Municipality No. 397 of Barrier Valley)

He said the municipality learned about a week ago that a trucking company that was hauling a piece of heavy equipment from Nova Scotia had room on board.

Arrangements were made to have the fire truck piggyback on that delivery at considerable savings, Black said.

“The spirit of co-operation is not dead in Canada,” he said.

“When you have a fire department all the way across the country who responds to a situation that is very serious for us and steps up to the plate with this kind of a donation, it really renews your faith in humankind.”

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