Mayor Henry Gaudon of Lourdes said he wishes the fire department in his town had the ability to protect every home in the area not protected by another fire department.
But he said the residents of his town can’t be expected to subsidize a free fire service to a community that asked to have the service stopped.
Gaudon was referencing a fire on Friday that destroyed a home at Piccadilly Head, when Lourdes Fire Department would not respond because that particular property is not paying for fire coverage. Lourdes Fire Department provides fire coverage to their town and the communities of Mainland, Three Rock Cove and West Bay.
He said the fire department used to provide coverage to Piccadilly Head, but in 2011 the Local Service District notified the Town of Lourdes they no longer wanted the fire coverage.
“If you live in a Local Service District where the governing body says they don’t want the coverage, then you simply don’t provide it,” Gaudon said.
He said the Lourdes Fire Department does provide coverage to 13 homes in Piccadilly Head to individuals that came to the Town of Lourdes wanting fire coverage for their properties. He said these individuals pay $100 a year for the coverage and the fire department will respond to fires at these locations.
Gaudon explained that it comes down to a liability issue because if the fire department was out fighting a fire at a “freebie” (a property that had not paid for coverage) and a call came for a fire in their coverage area at the same time, then there could be a huge lawsuit if the department did not respond.
“Once the hose comes off the truck, the fire department is liable to stay at that first fire,” he said.
Gaudon also said it wouldn’t be fair to those who are paying for the fire service for the department to go to a fire at a property that is not paying.
“With that said there were eight firefighters who showed up when the call came in on Friday and were biting at the bit to go and I was the one who made the decision for them not to. I’m the one who has to wear it if something goes wrong,” he said.