Efforts to have a water bomber stationed in Wabush this summer have succeeded.
Earlier this summer, as reported in the Aurora, Mayor Ron Barron expressed his concern that a water bomber that was traditionally stationed in Wabush would now be stationed in Happy Valley Goose Bay.
Barron worried that if conditions in Goose Bay didn’t permit the bomber to fly, Labrador West could be without the service of a water bomber if needed.
He also told the Aurora that having an aircraft in Labrador West as well as Happy Valley Goose Bay would benefit the entire region. "If conditions didn’t allow departures from one station, then the other would be available," he explained. He was also against the idea that the bomber would be stationed here when conditions were moderate or extreme.
He took his concerns to provincial government officials.
In a release on July 23, the MHA for Labrador West, Graham Letto, announced the water bomber would be repositioned to Wabush right away. That was a joint decision by the departments of transportation and works, and fisheries and land resources.
This brings the situation in Labrador back to the way it was in most years. The water bomber wasn’t positioned in Labrador West last year because of construction underway at the airport.
Letto explained: “Having a water bomber based in Wabush is important when conditions require a prompt response to a fire. Fighting a fire is critical for the protection of people, property and natural resources.
Meanwhile Wabush Mayor Ron Barron told the Aurora: “I’m pleased that decision was made, and it will provide peace of mind for people who have cottages and those who rebuilt after the last fire in 2013."
But Barron says he still has questions about how the operation will be handled, and when and how the pilots and crew will be stationed in Wabush as the old base was damaged during renovations at the airport last year.
In the release from the government it says fire management personnel will manage the movement of the tankers based on where the risk of fire is greatest and where active fires require them to operate. It also says arrangements are being made to position the pilots and support crew in Labrador West as well.