It’s not often you invest $20,000 on a mule.
But the District of Lake Country’s mule isn’t just any old labouring beast.
Built by Kawasaki, Lake Country’s mule is a fire-fighting, troop-carrying, water-packing, trailer-pulling all terrain emergency vehicle that is being put to good use by the Lake Country Fire Department, one of the only departments in the Okanagan to own its own emergency ATV.
So far this year the mule has helped transport fire-fighters into remote areas to battle grass fires and helped to transport two injured ATV riders from hard to access areas of Lake Country.
This mule is earning its money.
“Some years we get more use than others but this year we’ve used it for bush fires early in the season where there was some difficult access,” said Lake Country fire chief Steve Windsor. “You can transport crews to get them closer to the fire versus the guys having to walk in and carry water.”
The mule carries 60 gallons of water on it, can seat four people and pulls a trailer equipped with a basket stretcher. It was purchased about five years ago after Lake Country fire crews had some trouble accessing a camp fire that had gotten out of control behind some gravel pits off Glenmore Road.
Lake Country mayor James Baker suggested maybe there was a piece of equipment that could help in Lake Coutnry’s remote areas.
Enter the mule.
Windsor says there are plenty of areas in Lake Country that are hard to access with fire engines and command vehicles, area’s perfect for the mule.
“I think there is lots of potential for areas where we would need the ATV,” said Windsor. “There are so many trails up on Spion Kop Mountain where we can utilize it. There is lots of range land on the east side of Lake Country. There is lots of areas where we can’t get our four-wheel drive vehicles into that we can get this in.”
Lake Country fire-fighters hold training on driving and operating the mule as part of their training excercises, learning to operate the water pump as well as to safely navigate tough terrain.