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Fire dept. thinks pink
A Coquitlam reserve fire truck decked out in pink is doing just what the fire chief wants: sparking conversation.
The fire department rolled out the pink-clad vehicle this month at several community events, including Welcome to Coquitlam — an annual multicultural gathering at city hall — at the CIBC Run for the Cure in Vancouver to support breast cancer research and at the Fire Prevention Week open house at the Coquitlam Town Centre fire hall.
At all occasions, the pink truck has prompted a lot of talk and the department has won praise, Fire Chief Wade Pierlot said.
Pierlot said the truck serves two purposes: It shows Coquitlam firefighters support "pink" causes such as anti-bullying and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (October is breast cancer awareness month); and it's used for outreach programs.
Many Coquitlam residents are new Canadians and some come from cultures that don't trust authority figures. The pink truck acts as an icebreaker to educate immigrants about the role of firefighters, Pierlot said at Monday's council-in-committee meeting.
In addition, the bright colour is a draw for kids and the pink truck can be useful when the department is involved in a rescue for a lost child.
The pink truck shows that Coquitlam is "open for business," Pierlot said, referring to the Open for Business award the city won from the province earlier this month, adding, "We have to stay modern to the times."
"It's the most important apparatus I have in the [fire] house," Pierlot told the committee.
Still, Coun. Terry O'Neill asked Pierlot why the city wasn't consulted about the pink wrap before it went on. While O'Neill said he's not against what it represents, he is concerned it's not uniform with the other fire trucks and it doesn't follow municipal protocol of not taking public positions.
O'Neill also questioned the use of taxpayers' funds for the wrap; money for the $1,700 job came from the fire department's public education budget.
"It makes a statement about the values our firefighters have," said Mayor Richard Stewart, who pointed out Coquitlam RCMP take part in the annual Cops for Cancer ride to raise money for cancer research.
"I love the pink truck," Coun. Mae Reid said. "It's fire but it's rescue, too. I think it shows that we care. It's a community builder."
Wrapping fire trucks in pink is nothing new. Pink Heals Canada, a non-profit group made up of firefighters dressed in pink and driving pink fire trucks, tours communities to provide support to cancer victims. The movement started in 2007 by a firefighter in Phoenix, Arizona, and it has grown around the U.S.