Fire-response plan developed for when 10th Street bridge is out
The Sun Times

Owen Sound and its municipal neighbours have inked a service-sharing agreement aimed at maintaining fire response times while the 10th Street bridge is being replaced.

The deal, approved Monday by city council and adopted earlier by the Meaford and Georgian Bluffs councils, will see Owen Sound’s fire department housing a pumper truck and two firefighters at the west-side Inter Township fire hall.

The Inter Township department, which services Georgian Bluffs and the former Sydenham Township portion of Meaford, will park one of its trucks at the east-side Owen Sound station.

“First and foremost, the safety of our residents was the first consideration,” Meaford Mayor Barb Clumpus said in an interview. “We’re all neighbours and we’re all affected by the jobs we have to do in our communities, and so co-operation and collaboration all the way around is paramount.”

City Coun. Travis Dodd, who moved the motion for Owen Sound to sign the document, said the agreement is “one of those first steps” in examining how neighbouring municipalities can work together to service a shared need.

“I just think it’s great to see both Owen Sound fire and Inter Township working together to service everyone in our communities,” he said.

Work to replace Owen Sound’s 108-year-old 10th Street bridge, which is the city’s busiest east-west crossing, is expected to begin this fall and take about 14 months.

The 10th Street corridor is a main route for both the Inter Township and Owen Sound fire departments to respond to emergency calls, city fire Chief Doug Barfoot said in a report to council. It is anticipated the bridge closure would affect the city’s response times to calls on the west side and the Inter Township’s response to the former Sydenham Township, which borders Owen Sound’s east-side limits.

Barfoot said the agreement between Meaford and Georgian Bluffs, which jointly own the Inter Township Fire Department, and Owen Sound has been developed to maintain public safety and response times while the bridge is out.

“We’re only anticipating that there’s going to be a response impact on timelines to get from one side of the city to the other. We have no idea how bad the impact’s going to be. We feel it’s going to be negative,” he said in an interview.

Any responses outlined in the agreement will be considered a sharing of services, he said, and neither department will seek cost recovery for those situations.

“However, there will be a cost to the taxpayers in Owen Sound to bring in staff for those additional calls in Sydenham,” Barfoot said.

An Inter Township pumper will be at the Owen Sound station around the clock, and Inter Township firefighters will report to the city’s station if there’s a call in the former Sydenham Township.

If that Inter Township truck is called to a life-threatening incident or structure fire in Sydenham, Owen Sound firefighters will follow along to assist and will remain on scene until adequate Inter Township staff arrive.

Meanwhile, the Owen Sound pumper will be at the Inter-Township station from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily while the bridge is out.

“What we’re anticipating is that after six o’clock, the traffic impact won’t be that bad that we can’t deal with it ourselves,” Barfoot said.

If the Owen Sound pumper and two firefighters stationed at Inter Township are called to a blaze or life-threatening incident on the city’s west side, the agreement says on-duty Inter Township staff will follow along to assist until adequate Owen Sound firefighters can get across town to take over.

The municipalities can agree to modify the agreement while it’s in effect.

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