Rick Stiebel/News staff
The Esquimalt Lagoon Bridge is a weighty issue, as far as Colwood Fire Rescue is concerned.
Colwood Fire Rescue’s addition of heavier equipment over the years, including engine, ladder and rescue trucks, are too heavy for the bridge, said Chief John Cassidy. “It’s a concern for the fire department, but we have pre-planned for it and it’s not a major issue at this time,” he said. “We’ve been dealing with the Lagoon Bridge for quite a while.” Even the largest, heaviest motorhomes that are a frequent sight along the lagoon do not approach the weight of Colwood’s equipment, he added.
The City has downgraded the weight limit, and the bridge is inspected annually and undergoes maintenance annually.
Cassidy believes Colwood’s engineering department did explore replacing the existing one with a heavily constructed, post-disaster capable bridge, able to withstand storm surges as well in the past, but the cost was too prohibitive. Any replacement would involve erosion studies and sea rises as well, Cassidy noted. “It allows us to maintain safety until there’s a long-term plan.”
The fire department takes a pincer approach to calls of an undetermined address along Ocean Boulevard by having the heavier equipment approach via Lagoon Road while lighter vehicles use the bridge.
Cassidy said the fatality last week is an example of how that approach is utilized. Colwood was responding to an alarm at Dunsmuir Middle School with mutual automatic aid from View Royal when the call regarding the motorcyclist came in. Colwood was already on scenes when View Royal’s engine arrived and stopped short of the bridge. “It worked out very well in terms of response,” Cassidy said. “It’s unfortunate the patient did not survive.”