PORT COQUITLAM — Their presence is generally appreciated at the scene of an emergency, but a group of Port Coquitlam firefighters were given less than a hero’s welcome at a routine call Thursday night.
The PoCo fire department was called to a complaint of a group of teens lighting a bonfire at Glenwood Avenue and Osborne Street late in the evening.
While four members of the department were at the scene putting out the fire, someone decided to steal two fire helmets and some personal items right off the back of the fire truck.
The department filed a theft complaint with police, and while no suspects have been identified, firefighters did notice a group of teens near the truck as they left to deal with the bonfire.
It’s a theft that shocked even veteran firefighters with the department.
“It is pretty disappointing on a number of levels” PoCo fire chief Nick Delmonico told The NOW.
“Generally we don’t worry about our stuff because most people view we’re there to help, most wouldn’t consider doing something like that, but I’m assuming teenagers think of us as more of a nuisance.”
In all, about $1,200 worth of items were stolen from the truck, including the two helmets worth about $400 each.
It’s a cost the department will have to eat up, as the items are not insured by the city.
Though the thieves might get a late night chuckle out of their deed, the theft is no laughing matter for the fire department.
Delmonico said the theft also put the truck out of commission for the night, since fire crews can’t respond to a call without a helmet.
“They’re putting other people at risk by making our job more difficult to do,” he said.
However, Delmonico acknowledged it is not general policy to leave a truck unattended at a call.
He explained a crew of four firefighters would typically operate the truck, and then split into groups of two if needed.
But the nature of the call had both groups of two looking through the bush for the bonfire, therefore leaving the truck unattended.
“It was a bit unusual, but it was actually not the correct thing to do, they should have left someone at the apparatus [truck],” Delmonico.
The fire department is now hoping someone will spot the stolen gear and return it back to the department.