By: Emily Plunkett

Algonquin’s student firefighters are celebrating this semester with the arrival of a much-needed $12,000 retrofit to their truck, courtesy of donor Barnard Laberge.

Laberge, of Melocheville, Quebec-based Proactive Solutions, specializes in the manufacturing of fittings for emergency vehicles to make the job of emergency responders and created an internal mounting system inside the truck for the many tools of the trade required to assist firefighters on the field.

“There’s only one rule; it’s got to work,” says Laberge, who completed work on the three-year-old truck in house. “I got into mounting of equipment [on fire trucks] a couple of years ago and it was simply a reference.”

Leberge says that the donation comes as a win-win for both the program and his business. “The interesting thing for me,” he said, “is that every student that comes out of here, no matter where they go, will be used to working in a very structured environment. If they go to a department that might not have this mounting or is not as well structured, once they’re settled in they might say ‘Well this guy did this mounting for us.’”

Pre-service firefighter education and training program co-ordinator, Randy Foster, says the current fire truck used by students was originally donated in 2010 by the Cambridge Fire Department for $5,000.

Foster says Laberge approached him with the offer of a retrofit for the fire truck. Before Laberge’s work, various nozzles and heavy equipment would be stored in a shelf-less compartment in the back of the truck without too much organization.

“It was certainly something we were looking for,” says Foster. “The truck was a mess in terms of the equipment always being in a different location. [Laberge] showed me some drafts of things he’s done in the past and I was impressed.”

“This is a costly program, we hardly get any support,” Foster continues.

“Absolutely_amazing!” says firefighter student, Alex Anglin, 20, of the additions to the truck. “Everything is exactly where it should be every time you have to go get it. Everything is in the right place.”

With the new equipment inside their most powerful learning tool, the current and future students of Algonquin’s pre-service firefighter education and training program will no doubt leave the classroom with the highest degree of preparedness.