Lourdes mayor defends fire department for not attending Piccadilly blaze

Frank Gale
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Lourdes Mayor Henry Gaudon says the town’s residents can’t be expected to subsidize a free fire service to a community that asked to have the service stopped.

Gaudon wishes the Lourdes Fire Department had the ability to protect every home in the area that is not protected by another department.

The mayor was referring to a Friday blaze that destroyed a home at Piccadilly Head. The Lourdes department would not respond because that particular property is not part of an area that pays for fire coverage.

In addition to Lourdes, the town’s fire department provides coverage to the communities of Mainland, Three Rock Cove and West Bay. Gaudon said the three other communities collectively pay for fire service and the Lourdes department’s attendance at recent fires has shown the value of the service.

He said the fire department used to provide coverage to Piccadilly Head, but in 2011 the Local Service District notified the Town of Lourdes it no longer wanted the 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.

Back when his town provided the coverage, some volunteers from Piccadilly Head served on the Lourdes department, he said, adding that insurance rates drop for these areas when they avail of the service.

Lourdes Fire Department does provide coverage to 13 homes in Piccadilly Head for individuals who went to the town asking it to cover their properties. These residentds 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. If the department was out fighting a fire at a “freebie” (as Gaudon called a property that has not paid for coverage), and a call came for a fire in its own coverage area, lawsuits could ensue 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 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,” the mayor said. “I’m the one who has to wear it if something goes wrong.”

Gaudon said personnel from the Safety and Emergency Response Training Centre did respond to the fire, but by the time they arrived at the location the fire had already done its damage.

If there was a person or animal in a building that was on fire, he added, the Lourdes department would be there without hesitation. Other than that, it has no authority to fight a fire in a residence that is not paying for the protection, he said.

Organizations: Lourdes Fire Department, Local Service District

Geographic location: West Bay

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Recent comments

  • Justin
    May 28, 2014 - 22:14

    Read the article again..... There was no one in the house at the time of the fire....... I agree with the mayor as they have a liability to the communities that pay for protection. He was put between a rock and a hard place, and had a fire broken out in Lourdes and a person was hurt you would all be singing a different song .time for people to take responsibility and ensure they have fire protection..... You can't tell me this person was oblivious to the fact there is no FD in Piccadilly and lived there.

  • Frank
    May 28, 2014 - 21:07

    Is it possible other neghboring homes could have caught fire, from the flames of this house fire??? Poor judgement Mr. Gaudon.

  • brian
    May 28, 2014 - 20:56

    Its all about the money. Similar issue with St. Judes and Deer Lake fire department

  • Mary
    May 28, 2014 - 12:34

    I think the whole situation is a disgrace, you deny a burning house because the fee wasn't paid, that's what land taxes are for each year to cover those types of things, I would be getting a lawyer involved. What if there were people in the house would that of changed the mayors way of thinking poor excuse of verbal language I hope justice is served. Pissed off person.

  • Devil's Advocate
    May 28, 2014 - 11:51

    Pathetic, more worried about the almighty dollar than helping people. What if two, or three fires broke out at the same time in the covered areas? Could law suits still be possible if the department couldn't cover all the fires? Would they put a call out to a neighboring department to help them or not? Newfoundland used to be a help thy neighbor type of place, now it's a infected and divided by the corporate mentality. Sickening. From the poll on this topic most people support this divided mentality.