The first meeting of seven Pictou Island residents who were interested in starting a fire department was held on March 11, 1981. The Pictou Island Volunteer Fire Department was officially incorporated in June 1981. The stated objectives were to supply fire prevention and firefighting services for the residents and landowners of the island. Today, the objectives remain the same.
The Pictou Island Fire Department is made up of members of the community, virtually the same people who make up PICA. We do have a separate executive and Board of Directors. We receive an annual grant from the Municipality of Pictou County that enables us to upgrade our equipment and hopefully, enhance and improve the fire fighting capabilities on the Island. In 1989, a steel building was erected to house our equipment. We believe that having fire fighting equipment on site, that is, at each household, significantly increases the chance of extinguishing a fire.
Over the years, we have acquired and distributed a number of backpacks from the Dept. of Natural Resources. We have purchased and cost shared fire extinguishers for householders who requested them and have purchased smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to place in every Island household.
Recently, we surveyed our population to determine the existing status of fire fighting equipment on each property and asked for each household to give us a map or sketch of each property to show the location of propane tanks, gas barrels, and water resources. Most recently, we have installed a pump to access water from our existing well to provide a facility for filling fire fighting equipment. To power the pump, we have purchased new solar panels and batteries. We also now own a four-wheel drive truck with a 250-gallon tank with foam capability.
The Fire Department supports the First Responder Program on the Island. In the mid-nineties, an initiative was taken to start a First Responders Team. We have two cell phones for the exclusive use of First Responders during an emergency. We are well equipped to respond to an emergency with oxygen, defibrillators, stretchers, bandages, etc. We recently acquired two more mobile baskets for transporting people. We are also knowledgeable of the procedure for emergency evacuation by Life Flight and the Search and Rescue Zodiac. We have a helipad site situated north of the Community Centre that is yearly maintained.