Melanie Irwin has fought fires in Kazabazua and nearby municipalities for 20 years and still can’t wrap her head around a phenomenon she faces during most calls: people don’t pull over to allow fire trucks past.
Two calls on April 30 were too much for her and she posted a video, which she filmed on her phone while riding shotgun in a fire truck. The video shows Hwy 105 drivers ignoring the gigantic red truck riding their tail with lights on and sirens wailing.
“It’s like that on every call,” Irwin said.
In the early afternoon, she hopped into the passenger seat of the Kazabazua Volunteer Fire Department fire truck, which was loaded with 3,000 gallons of water, to respond to a brush fire on Chemin Jeannine. The traffic on Hwy 105 in either direction didn’t yield to the truck she was in. Luckily, she said, no structures were destroyed or people were hurt while putting out that fire.
While parking the truck at the station, firefighters had trouble getting highway traffic to halt so that the trucks could be backed into the station. Irwin said that people just drove around Fire Chief Shawn Chamberlain’s pickup in the middle of the road, as he tried to flag motorists to stop.
“It’s locals, it’s cottagers, it’s commercial vehicles,” Irwin said. “There’s no one category of motorists to blame.”
By law, drivers must make way for emergency vehicles, including police, fire or ambulance vehicles. If caught not moving over, drivers can be fined various amounts. Volunteer firefighters have green flashing lights equipped on their private vehicles to allow them to get to incidents quicker; other drivers must yield to these vehicles too.
“It’s really important that people pull over and let us go by,” Irwin said.
Just as the hoses were cleaned and being laid out to drain and dry, the fire department got another call about a brush fire. This time the call came from Chemin Cawood near Danford Lake.
Again, drivers didn’t yield, but this time a cottage burned down. No one was hurt.
The owner of the cottage stated that they were burning brush when the fire got out of hand and spread, Irwin said.
“Especially on a windy day, the risk of forest fires are horrible,” she explained.
Before burning, people should always check the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu website for fire bans and pay attention to fire danger signs that are posted near fire stations and along the highway.
Saturday was a windy, dry day, so no one should’ve been burning, according to the SOPFEU website.