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No pay, no fire coverage any time soon

['Editorial']
['Editorial']

Another fire in Piccadilly early last week with no response from the Lourdes Regional Fire Department set off another round of talk about the lack of attendance at fires in a nearby community.

It’s not a new issue and of six or seven fires in adjoining Piccadilly, which is made up of two local service districts, only two of them were on the list for response.

But it wasn’t always that way, as there was a time when the local service districts paid for fire response as a community, at the time costing residents about $25 per household. However, a majority of residents decided they didn’t want to pay and cancelled the service.

Some residents, fearing the loss of their home even if there was a small fire, went to the Town of Lourdes and asked if they could be included on the fire response list on an individual basis. The town agreed on a price of $100 per household for the coverage and a number of people took advantage.

Mayor Henry Gaudon was quick to point out when asked that the Town of Lourdes would gladly provide the fire service, right out to Piccadilly Crossroads, at a community rate that would amount to about $30 per property.

This would made things a whole lot easier when the fire department gets a call, instead of having to look on a list to see whether a particular property has coverage paid for or not.

Of course, if a call comes in and it’s reported a life is in danger, the fire department will respond.

Gaudon said he has had talks with MHA John Finn on the issue and had hoped some progress was being made toward coming up with a solution to the problem.

Finn said he talked with Eddie Joyce, minister responsible for Fire and Emergency Services, and then with fire commissioner Derek Simmons and deputy minister Sean Dutton.

Despite Simmons and Dutton visiting the area in January 2015 and discussing the issue with local service district chairs and mayors, no agreement was reached on finding response to areas outside municipal boundaries.

Finn said everybody has agreed there is a concern, but they couldn’t force something on somebody outside a community.

He said the role of Fire and Emergency Services is to provide financial support, advice and assistance to local governments, but fire protection is a municipal responsibility.

Enter Peter Fenwick, chairman of the Southwest Coast Joint Council, who placed the blame for the lack of fire service on the provincial ministers, saying they should force unincorporated areas to pay, just as they’ve done with waste disposal.

Joyce disagrees and said government can’t force this, especially since regional fire departments are entirely volunteer.

Despite their disparities, one thing all parties seem to agree on is that whoever gets fire coverage should pay for it, but the issue seems to be whether or not that can be made mandatory or forced on people.

It looks like more homes will go up in smoke for some time with no fire coverage before there is a solution to this problem, unless there is a change of heart by people in unincorporated communities.

It’s not a new issue and of six or seven fires in adjoining Piccadilly, which is made up of two local service districts, only two of them were on the list for response.

But it wasn’t always that way, as there was a time when the local service districts paid for fire response as a community, at the time costing residents about $25 per household. However, a majority of residents decided they didn’t want to pay and cancelled the service.

Some residents, fearing the loss of their home even if there was a small fire, went to the Town of Lourdes and asked if they could be included on the fire response list on an individual basis. The town agreed on a price of $100 per household for the coverage and a number of people took advantage.

Mayor Henry Gaudon was quick to point out when asked that the Town of Lourdes would gladly provide the fire service, right out to Piccadilly Crossroads, at a community rate that would amount to about $30 per property.

This would made things a whole lot easier when the fire department gets a call, instead of having to look on a list to see whether a particular property has coverage paid for or not.

Of course, if a call comes in and it’s reported a life is in danger, the fire department will respond.

Gaudon said he has had talks with MHA John Finn on the issue and had hoped some progress was being made toward coming up with a solution to the problem.

Finn said he talked with Eddie Joyce, minister responsible for Fire and Emergency Services, and then with fire commissioner Derek Simmons and deputy minister Sean Dutton.

Despite Simmons and Dutton visiting the area in January 2015 and discussing the issue with local service district chairs and mayors, no agreement was reached on finding response to areas outside municipal boundaries.

Finn said everybody has agreed there is a concern, but they couldn’t force something on somebody outside a community.

He said the role of Fire and Emergency Services is to provide financial support, advice and assistance to local governments, but fire protection is a municipal responsibility.

Enter Peter Fenwick, chairman of the Southwest Coast Joint Council, who placed the blame for the lack of fire service on the provincial ministers, saying they should force unincorporated areas to pay, just as they’ve done with waste disposal.

Joyce disagrees and said government can’t force this, especially since regional fire departments are entirely volunteer.

Despite their disparities, one thing all parties seem to agree on is that whoever gets fire coverage should pay for it, but the issue seems to be whether or not that can be made mandatory or forced on people.

It looks like more homes will go up in smoke for some time with no fire coverage before there is a solution to this problem, unless there is a change of heart by people in unincorporated communities.

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