Public’s input sought for Sarnia’s fire master plan

An in-depth look at Sarnia’s five fire stations is expected in February, the service’s deputy chief says, as city council mulls whether to approve a new station at the corner of Colborne Road and Michigan Avenue.

The analysis of response times and effectiveness of station location is part of a larger 10-year master plan for the city’s fire department, said Bryan Van Gaver.

The full, more than $60,000 report from consultant Emergency Management & Training Inc. is expected in April, he said.

But before recommendations from the full report go to council, members of the public are being asked to weigh in with their priorities for the 115-firefighter service. Sarnia Fire has 127 members including trainers, fire prevention officers, public education, admin personnel, and the chief and deputy chief, Van Gaver said.

A 24-question survey at speakupsarnia.ca is open until Feb. 21.

“We really hope people take the time to fill it out,” Van Gaver said.

“We do genuinely care what they think about the service and what we need to do to better ourselves.”

The survey asks people to rank the importance of key service functions – fire suppression; rescues from incidents like motor vehicle collisions; fire and arson investigations; fire prevention and safety inspections; community outreach and public education; hazardous materials responses to things like gas leaks, and technical rescue responses like water rescues; non-emergency and public assistance requests; medical responses; and planning for emergencies.

They’re all equally important, as far as the fire service is concerned, Van Gaver said.

“It takes all of them to put together a good package; so all extremely important,” he said.

Other questions ask respondents to assess the importance of things like response times to emergency calls; how the service works with other agencies, like government and industrial fire teams; and fire service visibility in the community.

The service responded to about 3,300 calls in 2019, Van Gaver said.

Sarnia paused last July plans to approve a new $1.9-million fire station at Colborne and Michigan, giving time first for a new master plan to be developed.

The city’s existing fire master plan dates to 2007, and response times, personnel and the way services are delivered have changed over time, Sarnia CAO Chris Carter said at the time.

The existing Colborne Road station was built in 1954.

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