Thieves made off with an expensive and critical piece of equipment during a break-in at the West Central Volunteer Fire Department’s hall this week.
Firefighter Celeste Maltais said the break-in at the fire hall, located a few kilometres west of Prince Albert, was discovered Monday morning when a firefighter arrived for work and found the door nearly ripped from the hinges. Maltais said the thief stole the department’s P25 radio, which was both expensive and crucial to the department’s operations.
“Those radios are $4,000 each, so it’s not like it’s easy for a little fire department to come up with that kind of money,” Maltais said. “[The thief] can’t even do anything with it.”
In addition to the radio, Maltais said the perpetrator stole several containers of gasoline which were used for the department’s vehicles and generators. As though the theft alone was not enough, she said the fire hall was also vandalized.
“It was chaos,” she said. “They flipped things over, and it was just a mess in there.”
Maltais said the incident was reported to the RCMP, but the volunteer department is left in a tough spot with their primary means of communication missing. They will still be able to receive 911 dispatches through a cellular service and respond to calls, she said, but their communications will still be hampered, particularly in the field.
“Right now we’re going to contact the provincial call centre and see what they want to do about that P25 radio,” she said. “When we get to a call we’re going to have no means to talk to dispatch… it makes it very dangerous.”
Maltais emphasized fire services in the region will not be disrupted by the theft. The West Central Volunteer Fire Department serves the R.M. of Duck Lake, she said, but there are several other volunteer and professional fire departments serving the region that are still able to respond to calls.
“We still have our team at West Central, we still have MacDowall, and there’s also the Duck Lake Fire Department,” she said. “And then there’s always Prince Albert.”
On Twitter: @TaylorMacP
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