Leicester Fire Chief Expected Fire Hall Delay
Although all six tender bids were too high, Leicester Volunteer Fire Department Chief Clayton Brooks (shown in the photos) is still plenty excited about the new three-bay fire station planned for his area.
He said he is not surprised that the bids exceeded the $529,000 budgeted by Cumberland County and the fire department.
“It's a bad time of year to put out to tender,” Brooks said. “ A lot of companies are busy this time of year and they'll be busy until Christmas, so they tend to overbid on new jobs”.
Brooks is sure the fire hall is still a go.
In the interim, the department is looking at ways it might be able to reduce costs. “We're weighing our options on our side”
The present two-bay fire station has three pieces of equipment and Brooks says, “There’s not enough space for all the trucks.”
The proposed new hall will measure 100 ft by 54 ft. The chief says, “It'll be a better fit for us. It will make it easier to practice in winter and will help the department attract new members.”
. “We tried to include the opinions of all the members in the design”.
The poor condition of the present fire hall is a concern to many. Brooks says the roof is sagging and needs to be replaced. He said, “The cost is so great to re-roof it, that we decided to take the other avenue instead.”
In 2016, then-Fire Chief Donald Read appeared before County Council to pitch for a new structure. Council designated $459,000 for it. The fire department agreed to pay $70,000
Fast Rise to the Top
Four years ago, Brooks and his wife Shannon left Sackville, NB and moved into an abandoned 50-acre farm in Little River. Shannon breeds Hanoverian horses and has just made her first two sales, one to a buyer in Maryland and another in California.
Brooks was introduced to the fire department on moving day. He remembers, “Within two hours of moving the first load, a neighbour stopped by and introduced himself. He invited me over to visit the fire hall. They were looking for new members. The rest is history.”
Brooks was elected Fire Chief last August, following the retirement of Chief Donald Read who led the department from 1989.
Membership is expanding. Six new members joined in the past year. The department how has 22 active members.
Brooks says lots of training and practice are important in keeping members active. “You can go for months without any major calls.”
Members meet on one Thursday each month, and have training or practice the remaining Thursdays.
There were two major calls this year and Brooks says all the training and practice paid off. Both fires were extinguished before they had a chance to expand.
In addition to being Fire Chief, Brooks works as a dairy farm inspector for Valacta, a company based in Quebec. He collects milk samples from dairy farms and sends them to PEI for testing.
Started in Garage
Leicester's fire fighting equipment consists of a 2009 pumper, capable of 1000 gallons of water per minute, a 2014 tanker with a 600 gallon capacity, and a 1982 truck equipped with equipment to fight forest fires.
The department started out in 1980 in a member's garage. The current hall was built in 1982.
The department serves the communities of Stanley, Salem, East and West Leicester, and Mansfield.