The Lac La Hache Volunteer Fire Department (LLHVFD) has a long history of helping its community in times of need.
Located inside what was once the old Lac La Hache elementary school, the LLHVFD is led by 15-year Fire Chief Terry Murphy along with about 20 firefighters ready to assist their community at a moment’s notice.
Department members meet once a week on Wednesdays and the LLHVFD is always open to recruiting new members. Murphy said his longevity in his demanding volunteer position is directly linked to the camaraderie within the team.
“If I didn’t have such a supportive crew, I wouldn’t take on the challenge,” said Murphy, noting he has a lot of respect for his team.
“Anybody that volunteers for a volunteer fire department and search and rescue are in my eyes top notch because they are only there to support the community.”
The LLHVFD average between 60 to 70 calls per year, with 90 per cent of those being motor vehicle incidents due to the fact Highway 97 runs through the community.
Most recently, the LLHVFD also responded to a fully involved structure fire Sept. 26 which unfortunately resulted in the loss of the home for the owner, but thankfully no injuries.
“My response time was about six minutes and it was fully involved when I got there,” Murphy said of the fire, which saw LLHFD members close the highway for a time due to concerns the nearby power poles would catch fire.
Murphy said their approach to the blaze was to “surround and drown” the fire while protecting neighbouring homes and Crown lands behind the structure fire, with the help of the 108 Mile Volunteer Fire Department who they called in for mutual aid.
In all, the crews spent about six hours on scene during the first call that evening and another four hours the next day putting out hot spots.
The LLHVFD has three engines and one tender in a good-sized fire hall at the old school. One truck is housed in the former gym and the other three are in a three-bay garage built onto the building. The classrooms in the former school act as the LLHVFD’s training rooms, while the soccer field serves as their training grounds.
As fire prevention week is in swing, Murphy recommends it is a good time for residents to prepare an escape plan in the event of a house fire, to make sure your furnace and chimney is serviced and to ensure there is an ABC fire extinguisher in your kitchen and another in your garage. An ABC fire extinguisher can put out ordinary combustible fires such as wood and paper, flammable liquid fires such as petroleum, gasoline, oil, paint, propane and butane fires as well as electrically energized fires.
“It’s a quick fix to put out fires,” said Murphy.