‘The thrill of running out the door’: First responders get top priority via personnel, funding

In Manitoba, Glenboro-South Cypress FD benefits from Enbridge’s Our Community Partners volunteer program (Part 2 in a series)

When equipment “tanks,” a rural budget can’t always make ends meet for small fire departments.

So after Manitoba’s Glenboro-South Cypress fire department’s water tanker had an unforeseen mishap, the immediate concern became whether purchasing a replacement was feasible, in addition to other items that are crucial to a firefighter’s job.

“As a small department, financing is most times limited,” says Deputy Fire Chief Trevor Drinkwater. “Being that we are a town and a municipal department, we deal with circumstances that many city fire halls don’t have to, such as extensive travel time.

“Ironically, our biggest issue can be access to water.”

Glenboro-South Cypress is one of many fire departments that’s taken advantage of Enbridge’s Safe Community program, which has given nearly $12 million in grants to North American first response organizations since 2002.

Earlier this year, Glenboro-South Cypress FD got a $7,000 Safe Community donation from Enbridge toward a replacement water tanker—and one of the department’s volunteers views this kind of support as a perk for volunteer work he believes is essential.

“I wouldn’t say it brings me to the department every day, but it’s a great incentive and the flexibility is fantastic,” says Rob Funk, who also happens to be an electrical technician for Enbridge in Glenboro, MB. “I can see the funding as a great way to encourage others to start volunteering.”

While the Glenboro-South Cypress department benefits from Safe Community, Funk gains individual benefit as a firefighter through Enbridge’s Our Community Partners volunteer program.

Enbridge employees who volunteer over 40 hours of service to a non-profit organization each year are eligible for grants—up to $500 a year in Canada, and $250 in the U.S.

Other employee contributions of time and money are also supported through Our Community Partners—Enbridge will match employee donations of up to $10,000 for our regional United Way campaigns, and give employees one paid day off a year to volunteer.

Funk has been taking advantage of the Our Community Partners program for two years.

“We use the grants received mostly to purchase gear for the fire department. As soon as I found out about it I’ve taken advantage and spread the word,” Funk says.

Drinkwater cites funding and personnel as the two main concerns that a fire chief faces in a small community—so these Enbridge sister programs come in very handy for his department.

Next for the department is replacing some big-ticket items like gear, new breathing apparatuses and a new truck specialized for grass fires.

“Though we’re a small community, it doesn’t diminish the importance of our job,” says Drinkwater. “The thank-you letters and the praise we receive in the local newspaper is what reinforces that.”