Plans proposed for more volunteer firefighters, new station for Centre Wellington

Plans proposed for more volunteer firefighters, new station for Centre Wellington
By Kenneth Armstrong
Guelph Today
Link to article: Plans proposed for more volunteer firefighters, new station for Centre Wellington

Centre Wellington Fire & Rescue could dramatically increase its complement of volunteer firefighters and have a new headquarters built if the township acts on the Fire Chief’s recommendations.

Fire Chief Brad Patton presented the department’s newly-created Fire Master Plan at a recent meeting of township council.

The plan includes three recommended outcomes — named Option 1, Option 2 and Option 3 — two of which are being recommended by the Fire Chief.

The department currently has a complement of 60 volunteer firefighters, with four to five available at each of the township’s two fire halls at any given time.

Recommendations in the Fire Master Plan would see that number increase to a total of either 72 if Option 1 is selected or 96 volunteer firefighters with Option 3.

Patton would like to see Option 1 implemented in the short term, with a plan to implement Option 3 within the next 10 years.

“One of the main thrusts of the plan that we really did like it’s all about maintaining the viability of our volunteers and enhancing their service in the coming years,” said Patton.

Also included in Option 3 of the proposed plan calls for the building of a new Centre Wellington Fire and Emergency Services headquarters in the Aboyne community, north of the Grand River.

Option 2 — which is not being recommended to the township — includes a proposal to move the existing Elora fire hall, which the plan said would result in slower response times.

The two existing fire halls are currently located in Fergus and Elora, both south of the Grand River.

Patton is recommending township council purchase a plot of land for the proposed station within the next year or two.

As proposed in the plan, the Elora station would become a satellite and its complement of fire trucks would be reduced from the current four to only one pumper.

Currently, the Elora fire station houses a pumper truck, a tanker, a rescue truck and the department’s only aerial truck.

Patton said that reduction in apparatus at the Elora station and its designation as a satellite location will be reviewed.

“I’m not overly comfortable with that proposal. Once we get down the road and start looking at the bigger changes we will redetermine that. I think you will see more than that there at the station at the end of the day,” said Patton.

“I think the Elora station will be there for a very long time,” he added.

Another key component of the plan is the purchase of a third pumper truck for the department to act as a backup in case either of the existing two units requires service.

Patton said he is working with the finance department on ways to move forward with the proposed purchase of the additional pumper.

“What we are proposing is instead of replacing our next pumper after 20 years, we will replace it after 15 years and move it to a different role, purchase a replacement and rotate the vehicles a little sooner so we always have one (in reserve),” said Patton.

The estimated cost of the proposed land purchase, building cost and additional pumper purchase included in Option 3 would amount to $4 million, as well as an annual operating budget increase of $584,200.

In addition, $238,500 would be added initially to the capital budget, with an annual cost of of $24,790.

Moving ahead with Option 1 would increase in the operating budget by $287,400 and add $106,500 initially to the capital budget.

Also with Option 1, $8,710 would be added annually to the ongoing capital budget.

A number of departments across the province are revising their fire master plans, said Patton.

The Centre Wellington plan was created by Dillon Consulting and Patton said numerous stakeholders were consulted, including the firefighter unions, the township and others.

“We really did try hard to engage everyone that would have some sort of input on the fire master plan. I think it worked out quite well,” he said.

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