Calls for fire service were up in 2017, but shorter overall: Fire chief

Calls for fire service were up in 2017, but shorter overall: Fire chief
By Andy Bader
Mitchell Advocate
Link to article: Calls for fire service were up in 2017, but shorter overall: Fire chief

The number of calls increased for the West Perth Fire Department in 2017, but the total number of hours worked were down, Fire chief Bill Hunter reported to West Perth municipal council Feb. 5.

“There was a lot more calls but they were of a shorter duration,” he said.

The fire department had 126 alarms for the year, but the hours on scene were approximately 200 less than those for 2016 (1896 in 2017 compared to 2077).

The average number of firefighters to respond for calls was 13, which was “very good for a community this size,” he said, and added the average alarm length was one hour and 15-minutes.

Also good was the average response time of 11 minutes and 15 minutes – from everything to calls next door to the far southwest corner of the municipality.

The dollar loss for 2017 was just under $1 million, or $941,800, chief Hunter reported.

“There’s obviously room for improvement but it’s not too bad,” he said.

Chief Hunter was most impressed with the value of property saved – an estimated $51,550,950.

“That’s some pretty impressive numbers,” he said.

In other fire department news, a group from the municipality along with their architect did a fire station road tour on Feb. 2 of four area fire stations recently built, or under construction, giving some ideas that West Perth could incorporate into their new campus facility.

The group visited fire stations in Coldstream, Thorndale (which was still under construction), Thamesford and Milverton, ranging in price from $1.2 million (Milverton) to $2.8 million (Coldstream). All were 8,000-10,000 sq. ft. in size, too.

“Basically it was an opportunity to look around at four very different but similar fire stations,” Chief Hunter said, adding that the basic footprint were similar, notably having drive through bays.

“It was a pretty education day, I thought,” he said.

CAO Jeff Brick, who was also part of the tour, said Mitchell’s current location “is so well-positioned here with a street on each end” that it makes sense for the new fire station to also have a drive through bay.

“If ever there was a no-brainer, it’s a total no-brainer,” said Brick.

“It’s a natural fit for this property,” added chief Hunter.

“A fire station needs to be constructed for a purpose and serve that purpose and once you meet that you can do all kinds of other things to the building,” he added, pointing out the range in price of the four fire stations they visited.

Chief Building Official/Zoning Administrator Bob McLean reported that there were 343 permits issued in 2017 – up from 331 in 2016 and consistent with what was issued in 2015, 349.

The contruction value was $31,525,725 – approximately $10 million less than in 2016, but the number of permits increased. In 2017, 33 new housing permits and four renovations were prepared, compared to 23 new and eight renovations in 2016. He said in previous meetings that Sofina’s start-up in 2016 is the major reason for the increase in overall value due to its sheer size.

McLean said his department issued 116 zoning certificates in 2017 – up 19 from the total of 97 in 2016.

Coun. Bob Burtenshaw requested council support a resolution received from the Town of Lakeshore (Belle River) which asks that both the federal and provincial governments allocate a proportionate share of the new tax revenues generated from the sale of marijuana to municipalities directly once it becomes legal later this year.

Lakeshore asked that the governments create a fund, similar to the Gas Tax fund and the Clean Water and Wastewater fund, from the new tax revenues generated by the sale of marijuana which municipalities can use for infrastructure projects.

“We should support this resolution, we’re looking for sources of revenue and constantly being cut off by different levels of government for whatever reason and I think if there’s a chance that we could get even some income it will do us good,” said Coun. Burtenshaw. “If you don’t try, you ain’t gonna get it.”

The motion was carried, but Coun. Dean Trentowsky urged caution if it comes to fruition.

“We’ve seen it time and again that if there’s an idea floated at the upper tiers it’s usually the municipalities that are saddled with the problems and dealing with the expenses of said problems,” Coun. Trentowsky said. “I like Bob’s suggestion, but it’s unfortunate that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. It cuts both ways here.”

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