Five facts supporting Bracebridge's decision to back appeal to keep Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst

The Town of Bracebridge is throwing its support behind an appeal to keep the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst. The resolution, passed at the Feb. 23 general committee meeting, is expected to be ratified at council on March 3. Here are some of the facts behind the support:

1. Deputy Fire Chief Jared Cayley said the “threat of mandatory certification” differing from the certification program the department has had in place since 2012 would spell an increase in the department’s training budget. Although Cayley can certify in-house, “I would need to be cloned to keep up if the mandatory certification came through.” Doing this without the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst is a costly proposal. Cayley stated he had the opportunity to send two firefighters to the Regional Training Centre but chose not to. The bill came in excess of $1,400 plus lodging whereas he says the cost of utilizing the Gravenhurst facility is about $500 for the week, including employee time. “Locally, we are going to feel the crunch of the loss of the fire college,” said Cayley. “For us to maintain the higher level of training for senior officers is going to require further municipal resources."

2. The initial resolution brought to the table by Coun. Mark Quemby and passed at committee was one brought forward from correspondence from the Township of Augusta, a community more than 430 kilometres from the fire college. Quemby said it behooves every municipality to ensure there are alternatives available before the facility is closed. “If not, just keep it open and keep training our firefighters to save their lives and ours.”

3. The Town will s tay abreast of what the Town of Gravenhurst’s efforts are in terms of keeping the facility and try to support them in their efforts.

4. Mayor Graydon Smith, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, said there have been conversations at that table from several municipalities concerned over the closing of the college.

5. Cayley stated that over the past several years resources have been cut from the fire college and programs have diminished including live training on the grounds. “Things have been progressively taken away and taken away and we’ve got to this point here with the planned closure in March.”

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