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North Van kisses its fireboats goodbye

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It makes a certain kind of financial sense, but it's going to be tough for residents of the North Shore to accept the disappearance of the two fireboats that have been berthed under the north end of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge for years -- especially since they are used to fight an average of five fires per year.

And it might take the next unfortunate waterfront fire to determine whether the move makes safety sense. Some of the fires the vessels are called out to are also accessible by land.

The pair of high-speed boats were part of the fleet assembled for municipalities around the port after the city of Vancouver sold the beloved old Guardian fireboat to San Francisco in 1987 in a move that prompted enormous debate about how well the smaller fleet would do as a replacement.

The North Shore Outlook is reporting that a temporary new deal has been cut among the municipalities that will see the North Shore given use of the vessel's services during emergencies, but that will not see the boats berthed or crewed by the North Vancouver and the district any more.

Feelings are mixed on the move. The fire department is saying the move will not compromise safety and that it will free money that can be used for other things, like training on industrial spills. The firefighters' union agrees that extra money is always useful, but argues that it's safer to have them on the North Shore, and that there was a good reason to have stationed them there initially.

You can read the Outlook's complete story here.

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