Red may be the colour of choice for most fire stations, but in Saanich, the stations are going green.
The Saanich Fire Department has made several changes in order to make their operations more environmentally friendly.
Deputy Fire Chief Dan Wood tweeted about the department’s switch to greener technology to share with the rest of Canada.
Hey 🇨🇦@SaanichFire we continue to find innovation to reduce our impact on climate change and the environment!
— Dan Wood (@firechiefwood) November 27, 2019
One of the changes included equipping the gas-powered fire trucks with anti-idling technology. When the truck is on, but not using the water pump, the main engine shuts off and a smaller engine kicks on to power a generator that keeps the lights flashing, the communication devices online and the heat on.
This technology is about four years old and helps to saves about 75 per cent of the energy typically used to run an idling fire truck engine, Wood explained.
The department also chose to swap the gas-powered small vehicle fleet for electric cars. Some units such as Fire Prevention use the cars to get around Saanich for educational demonstrations and smoke alarm testing, among other things. Now, they’ll plug in at the end of the day instead of gassing up.
The fire department also opted for battery powered and electric rescue and firefighting equipment, Wood noted. For example, the gas-powered hydraulic cutter – also known as the “jaws of life” – has been swapped for an electric version. Wood pointed out that the tools have the same strength and power, but they’re not creating emissions.
He emphasized that switching to renewable energy and environmentally friendly tools is an “easy decision to make” and worth the “marginally higher” price tag.
“We’re looking to be good citizens,” said Wood, noting that the fire department is trying to do its part in helping the District of Saanich reach it’s climate goals and lower emissions.
Saanich’s Fire Station #2 is set to be redeveloped in the next few years and it will be fully electric. Wood pointed out the goal is for it to be net zero when it comes to electricity as solar panels on the roof will replace what the station uses.
Wood also noted that fully electric fire trucks are likely only about five years away.
“The next generation of fire station” is on the horizon in Saanich.