On Aug. 24, The Shield Journal awarded its first Community Safety Grant to the Lanark Highlands Fire Department (LHFD) in the Township of Lanark Highlands, ON.
The Department was awarded just over $3,000 to purchase a brand new Galaxy GX2 Automated Test System. This unit is used to detect the presence of Carbon monoxide (CO), providing the LHFD with a more efficient system to respond to CO leaks across the township.
“This is going to seriously improve the way we respond to calls of this nature,” says LHFD Fire Chief Gene Richardson, who has been with the Department since April 2019. “These units have the latest technology, so it’s going to really simplify things for everyone involved.”
The LHFD as we know it today was formed in 1997 when five individual fire departments within the Township of Lanark Highlands merged to form a single department. Today, Chief Richardson spearheads a team of 70 volunteer firefighters tasked with protecting the entire township, which stretches across an astounding 1,048 square kilometres from White Lake to McDonalds Corners. In total, the Township of Lanark Highlands consists of 34 communities in eastern Ontario.
The LHFD receives more than 150 residential and commercial calls every year. According to Chief Richardson, a significant portion of those calls involve CO leaks, which can be incredibly dangerous for both people and animals if handled incorrectly. He says these calls can also be quite time consuming, which is why it’s so important for the team on call to be as quick and efficient as possible from the moment they arrive.
Previously, when responding to a reported alarm, Chief Richardson says the department would use an Altair 4XR multi-gas detector to recognize acceptable levels of CO and other gases in the building. The team then had to travel all the way to Perth for calibration. Now, the Galaxy GX2 will test and calibrate the team’s multi-gas detectors on site. This way, the callers can return to their homes or workplaces as quickly and safely as possible, saving valuable time and resources.
With the funding the department will save for future budgets, the LHFD plans to purchase additional Galaxy GX2 units for the four remaining stations.
“We’re so lucky to live in such a tight-knit community – the support we’ve received since COVID-19 hit has been unbelievable,” says Chief Richardson. “Now we can be confident that we’re doing our jobs to the very best of our ability, so it’s nice to know that we’ll be able to give that support back to the community.”
Victoria St. Michael is a multimedia content creator with experience producing high-quality print and digital content. Victoria graduated with an Honours Degree in Digital Journalism from the University of Ottawa and a Journalism Diploma from Algonquin College, and has bylines in publications across North America. With an avid interest in humanitarian and global issues, she hopes to use her unique voice to help build a well-informed, forward thinking and progressive Canada.