Fire chief to unveil station location at public meeting

Fire chief to unveil station location at public meeting
By Bill Hodgins
Kawartha This Week
Link to article: Fire chief to unveil station location at public meeting

Replacing the Oakwood and Little Britain fire stations would pose no threat to public safety, Kawartha Lakes Fire Chief Mark Pankhurst says.

If a new station is constructed, it will be built in a location beneficial to both areas.

Pankhurst will be on hand at a public meeting in Little Britain Thursday (Jan. 18) to present a plan for the consolidation of the two fire stations. The meeting will be held at the Little Britain Community Hall from 7 to 9 p.m.

“We’re going to announce the location at the public meeting and answer any questions,” the chief says.

With the majority of the population, with higher population densities, being located south and south-east of Little Britain, it is the opinion of the peer review consultants that the most suitable location for a consolidated station would be in the Little Britain area."

Back in 2015, when the city was looking to build a new station in Bethany, a decision was made to look at all the municipal fire stations, he says. A study was commissioned to look at fire coverage, response time, and any other issues facing the existing stations. Given the proximity of the Oakwood and Little Britain stations — they are four minutes apart — consolidation was considered. A report went to council that fall and public meeting were held.

Wanting to be sure of its findings, a third-party peer review was initiated and it backed the original report’s findings. Pankhurst says his department went even further, conducting response time trials, which validated previous findings.

Still, he expects any decision will be a controversial one. “I just want to assure to all that there will be no threat to public safety.”

The peer review study concluded that the Fire Station Location Study and its recommendations are “logical, supportable, meet NFPA standards, and applied a sound approach to station locations.”

The peer review has suggested any new fire station be located in Little Britain as opposed to Oakwood. The Oakwood and Little Britain Stations are 5.5 kilometres from each other, providing overlapping response capabilities for most of their areas. The Woodville station provides overlapping coverage of the north portion of the Oakwood station area.

“With the majority of the population, with higher population densities, being located south and south-east of Little Britain, it is the opinion of the peer review consultants that the most suitable location for a consolidated station would be in the Little Britain area,” states a Q&A prepared for Thursday’s public meeting.

The cost to build a new station will be approximately $1.6 million.

The Q&A paper assures the consolidation will not impact any volunteer firefighter positions in Oakwood or Little Britain. “There will be no jobs lost as a result of the consolidation.”

Chief Pankhurst says if the new plan and new location are approved, a report will go to council looking for budget support to build a news station, likely in 2019 or 2020.

“We will have a modern fire facility that will serve the communities for many years.”

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