Residents urge Kincardine to stick with Paisley Fire Board
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|Residents in the northeast portion of Kincardine are urging council to continue its partnership in the Paisley Fire Board.
In May of last year, Kincardine gave notice that it planned to opt out of the board, in favour of a fire service agreement for the area currently serviced by the Paisley Fire Department which is the northeast part of the former Bruce Township.
In committee-of-the-whole last night (Jan. 27), John Thornburn of the 10th of Bruce was joined by a group of neighbours, imploring council to remain with the board to ensure proper fire protection for their area.
He said that Kincardine councillors at the information meeting Nov. 25, 2009, said the taxpayers and residents serviced by the Paisley Fire Department should have been informed and had the opportunity to address the issue before the letter of intent to withdraw ownership was given to the Paisley Fire Board.
"This is not just another business transaction," he said. "This has an impact on the safety of your people, their homes and their farms."
Thornburn asked what negotiations had taken place prior to deciding to withdraw from the board, and what negotiations have occurred since?
"Can council guarantee that we will receive equal fire service protection as the other ratepayers and residents in Tiverton and Kincardine?" he asked. "We are not convinced that we would receive the same service because of discussions at the Underwood meeting."
He said the Arran-Elderslie councillors said Kincardine's intent to withdraw ownership would force them to review the service of the Paisley Fire Department and they may not be able to guarantee fire protection for the area they currently service in Kincardine.
[Arran-Elderslie owns the majority of the Paisley Fire Board, with the Paisley Fire Department located in that township.]
Thornburn said Kincardine's fire chief and councillor Mike Leggett said, at the Underwood meeting, that the Tiverton Fire Department would then provide the service. But that doesn't sit well with the residents because the response time would be increased even in the best weather conditions.
He said the residents have been told that their insurance coverage would change due to increased distance and response time from the Tiverton Fire Department. "Insurance rates would increase up to 30 per cent more or, in a worst case scenario, the company would not provide insurance," he said.
The current fire agreement has been in place for more than 30 years and has protected the residents in the former Bruce Township, said Thornburn. "This petition of 165 names testifies that the residents and taxpayers want to leave the existing fire agreement in place.
"We, as concerned residents and taxpayers of this municipality, would encourage this council to review the information and concerns raised and consider the petition as a sign from your people of their satisfaction for service from the Paisley Fire Department and concern for the safety of their families, their property and their livelihoods."
Deputy mayor Laura Haight, chairing the meeting in the absence of the mayor, said there seems to be some confusion about what the residents believe the reason was for Kincardine withdrawing from the fire board.
"There was no intent to change the service," she said, noting the intent was to cease ownership in the fire board and set up an agreement for fire protection currently provided by the Paisley Fire Department.
Haight explained that the Ontario Fire Marshall's Office did a review of the fire protection service in Arran-Elderslie which has firehalls in Paisley, Chesley and Tara. The result was non-compliance by the fire board on several items, including fire education and prevention planning, and daytime staffing.
As part of the fire board, Kincardine was unable to make any changes to those gaps in service in order to have them at the same level as the fire departments in Kincardine and Tiverton, said Haight. However, if Kincardine contracted the service, it could supplement those gaps itself.
Thornburn reiterated that the concern for residents is that when they make a 911 call, they need fire service to their property.
"The service will remain the same," said Haight. "The only change will be to administration which has nothing to do with fire service."
She said the major barrier for getting things done is that Arran-Elderslie, which is responsible for fire service in its municipality, could say that a certain program would be put in place, but the fire board could turn it down.
"None of this has been communicated to the people affected," said Thornburn. "Are you negotiating an agreement with Arran-Elderslie?"
Chief administrative officer John deRosenroll said he contacted Arran-Elderslie in October to set up a meeting but the township deferred it until early 2010 due to staff workload. "Our intention is to set up a meeting for March," he said.
Councillor Mike Leggett said that at the September fire board meeting, a response agreement was voted in unanimously. "For Arran-Elderslie to say it's not sure it can provide fire service is unexpected," he said. "They're getting paid an annual fee; how can they not provide the service?"
He told the residents that Kincardine wants to enhance the fire service, with applications which Paisley cannot provide. "If you're part of an automatic aid agreement, that area can access extra services, such as high-angle rescue, confined space rescue, and ice water rescue out of Kincardine. For example, if somebody were trapped in a silo, the Kincardine Fire Department would be dispatched to make sure that person was rescued."
Leggett explained, once more, that when residents of that area dial
911, the Paisley Fire Department will still arrive in their driveways.
Haight said she would be surprised if Arran-Elderslie backed out
because Brockton and Kincardine own 47 per cent of the board and
provide 47 per cent of the funding. Brockton is also planning to
withdraw, she said.
MacKinnon reminded the residents that the intent is to change the
administration, similar to the consolidation of the Kincardine and
Tiverton departments' administration in 2003.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010